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More solar power in the works for southern Colorado

Fountain's newly installed solar panels are expected to save the city $175,000 in electricity costs each year. (Parker Seibold/The Gazette via AP)

There are plans for two different solar power farms in southern Colorado.

Solar panels are being installed in Las Animas County for the Spanish Peaks Solar project. According to developer Deriva Energy, the solar farm would generate 140 megawatts, or enough to power about 38,000 homes annually.

Tri-state Generation and Transmission Association, which provides electricity for users in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming, will use power generated from the farm for the next 19 years.

Darnell Everett, the senior vice president of projects for JUWI, the company in charge of designing the project, said construction of the plant will open 250 to 270 jobs in the area. Once the solar farm is built, there will be at least one long-term full-time position to keep it operational.

“The terrain is a nice flat area, it’s wide-open, lots of sun,” said Everett. “It’s just a good area to build solar as far as the yearly temperature and things of that nature.”

The La Junta Solar Project in Otero County still needs to get approval from county commissioners before breaking ground. If plans move forward, the plant managed by Korsail Energy would generate 120 megawatts. That’s enough power for about 24,000 homes annually.

Developer Korsail said the site is good for solar development because of the landscape and because the solar farm can be interconnected with Tri-state Generation.

“Also, it's a good county to work with,” said Don Buchhols, who leads Korsail’s development team. “There are some counties in Colorado that are very difficult to permit projects with. Otero County has been great to work with. They’ve been welcoming to us.”

That project would hire about 300 people to build the facility, with two or three long-term positions available after construction is completed. The solar farm would take about a year to construct.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.