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Hesperus solar developer committed, despite another hiccup

The application is considered ‘withdrawn’ by La Plata County following Oct. 29 deadline
The application for a 1,900-acre solar project has been deemed withdrawn by county planners, although the developer has stated an intent to resubmit the application. The project would sit on the mesa on the south side of Wildcat Canyon Road (County Road 141). (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The application for a 1,900-acre solar project south of Hesperus is considered “withdrawn” by La Plata County, although the company behind the proposal, Primergy Solar, says it intends to resubmit the application.

The setback means that Primergy’s project will land at the back of the line for review, with an estimated delay of several more months.

That determination follows an Oct. 29 deadline set by the county by which Primergy had to cure numerous deficiencies found in the initial application. The company submitted approximately 600 pages of application materials by the deadline, but failed to submit a cost reimbursement agreement to which it had previously agreed on, Community Development Director Lynn Hyde said.

The agreement, which Primergy says it intends to submit, will allow the county to recoup the abnormally high costs associated with reviewing the complex project.

“The Cost Reimbursement Agreement was submitted but was not considered complete due to an administrative deliverable,” the company said in an email to The Durango Herald. “This will be remedied in the next submittal. Primergy remains committed to working with the County to ensure its team has everything required for a thorough permitting process.”

Primergy first submitted its application just under a year ago and received a partial response from the county on Jan. 4. The county granted the company an open-ended extension to the initial 60-day cure deadline while a third-party consultant finalized the determination of completeness, and the cost reimbursement agreement was signed.

That third-party report was delivered to Primergy in early February, but the cost reimbursement agreement was never finalized.

Hyde, who stepped into the role at Community Development on July 31, said the extended deadline was not uncommon with complex applications.

“Typically, I think it's helpful to have an end-date on extensions,” she added.

The initial review performed by the county and its contractor noted the need for a water supply that complied with county codes, the absence of oft-referenced best management practices and an insufficient visual impact assessment.

The application’s withdrawn status means planning staff have not reviewed the content, and so it remains unclear if, or to what extent, Primergy addressed the outlined deficiencies.

A group of distressed neighbors have organized to try and prevent the development of the project, and STOP Hesperus Solar representative Barry Spear said he was glad to see the county’s regulations functioning.

Primergy's initial plans for the site include panels and a 155 megawatt battery bank on the properties. At the recommendation of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the company planned a 1,000-foot wide wildlife corridor through the project. (Courtesy of Primergy Solar)

“We remain wary of the next phase of this where they will file another application, and we intend to scrutinize it as much as we did the first application,” Spear said. “We will continue to oppose the project if it's resubmitted in the same form it is right now.”

Primergy’s timeline moving forward remains unclear. The company had previously hoped to break ground in September 2024.

On March 31, the company purchased 718 acres of land for the project for $2.9 million.

In a tersely worded response to a question about timing, the company said “Primergy intends to continue to advance Hesperus Solar, and once permitting is complete, we expect to move toward construction.”


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