Rural Electric Coop | Mountain West

Empire Solar

Location: Cortez, CO

Size: 11.8 MWdc

The Empire Solar Portfolio consists of three projects: Totten (2.8 MWp), Rocky Ford (2.6 MWp), and Montezuma (6.4 MWp). Overall, these projects will produce nearly 5% of EEA’s energy supplied to their local communities.

Empire Electric Association (EEA) is based in Cortez, Colorado and serves over 12,000 farms, ranches, residences, and businesses across its 3,410 square mile service territory. As an electric cooperative, owned by its members, EEA fulfills its mission to meet its customers’ electrical energy needs safely, responsibly, and reliably.

OneEnergy approached EEA in 2019 with a team and a plan to reduce their electrical energy expenses. The advantages to EEA included serving local loads with locally produced solar energy economically - at a cost below their long-term wholesale supply contract. EEA was receptive to the idea and began working with OneEnergy to identify the amount of energy they could produce locally and suitable locations for distributed solar projects.

OneEnergy then began identifying appropriate land and interconnection locations to achieve EEA's goals. A portfolio of three project sites came together in EEA’s territory over several years. The projects are sited on property leased from the local community which helps the landowners generate guaranteed revenue. The resulting Empire Portfolio was permitted in 2021 and fully constructed in 2023.

The Empire Portfolio represents a unique partnership between a developer and utility company, where both parties worked collaboratively to serve local loads with clean energy without back feeding the transmission system. The solar facilities are dispersed around EEA’s member communities and integrated into the natural environment. The renewable energy credits from the portfolio are being sold separately to innovative buyers who are committed to installing new clean energy facilities across the nation.

“Success in any major project hinges on good communication and OneEnergy has been excellent in communicating with us. They have been very responsive to our questions, and it has been a very pleasant experience all around.”

- Josh Dellinger, General Manager, Empire Electric Association

Empire Solar Case Study 2023

See Case Study