Reclamation Celebrates Completion of Solar Pilot Project

Media Contact: Mary Perea Carlson, (505) 462-3576

For Release: November 04, 2010

The Bureau of Reclamation today celebrated the expansion of its renewable energy repertoire with the grand opening of its Solar Pilot Project in Alamosa, Colorado.

Long known for using the water it transports throughout the 17 western states to produce hydropower, Reclamation is now branching out in response to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor's emphasis on more use of renewable energy.

The facility built at Reclamation's Alamosa Field Division currently produces about 50 kilowatt hours per day, or about 10 percent of the power used by the office. It has resulted in about $300 in monthly savings on electricity.

"We are proud of the initiative taken by our staff in Alamosa to complete this pilot project," said Albuquerque Area Office Manager Mike Hamman. "We look forward to experiencing the benefits of this project and learning more about solar and other forms of renewable energy that may be viable in Alamosa and throughout the Albuquerque Area Office."

The Solar Pilot Project was reimbursed $34,440 of its construction costs through the Xcel Energy Solar Rewards Program. The Solar Rewards program was established after the passage of Amendment 37, which requires the state of Colorado's largest utilities to obtain ten percent of their electricity from renewable energy resources by 2015. Through the program, customers who install solar photovoltaic systems receive Renewable Energy Standard adjustment rebates, in addition to rebates per watt of solar panels installed on customer premises, up to 10,000 watts (10 kilowatts). Designs and planning on this photovoltaic solar array project began in early 2009. Construction began in March 2010. The system was put into service on July 22, 2010.

Photovoltaic technology makes use of the abundant energy produced by the sun with little impact on the environment. Photovoltaic systems are quiet and produce clean energy with no emissions. According to Xcel Energy, installing one kilowatt of solar power is equivalent to planting 50 trees. Each kilowatt-hour generated by solar energy instead of fossil fuels saves 1.911 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year and six pounds of nitrogen emissions.

A kilowatt-hour is the electrical energy consumed in one hour at the constant rate of one kilowatt. The amount of electricity used by a household depends on how many appliances are used and the amount of time they are used. An average household in the United States uses about 8,900 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.