Over the years, Utah’s share of big projects have been announced, but currently, IKEA has the largest commercial solar system in the state on its store in Draper, generating 1 megawatt of power. Just last month, the largest Utah-based, local and privately owned roof-mounted solar project came online at Burton Lumber in Salt Lake City, featuring 2,676 solar modules that will produce 6.42 kilowatts of power.
Utah has three “solar zones” of nearly 19,000 acres designated by the U.S. Department of Interior as solar hot spots for utility-scale projects that will have the benefit of expedited permitting and project approval, but as of yet, no applications for projects have been received, according to Utah BLM officials.
In Iron County, a proposed 100-megawatt project announced two years ago is on hold, according to Iron County Commissioner Alma Adams. The waiting on securing power purchase agreements and other details essential to make the deal a success.
Samantha Mary Julian, director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, said several solar farms are being proposed for Utah, including the Iron County sun farm, but they remain in various stages.
“Utah is right on the verge of having a solar farm. There are just a few sticklers that makes it tough,” Julian said. “There are a handful of issues that can take a project down if you don’t do it right. You can either achieve them and accomplish it, or they can become a barrier.”
Such things include what technology to use, who will take the power, whether the geographic location is right and whether the pricing for the power makes economic sense, she said.
“There are a lot of pieces that have to fall into place for them to come to fruition,” echoed Sara Baldwin, Utah Clean Energy’s policy expert in solar development.
Julian’s office is working with Energy Capital Group’s project proposed for Millard County.
Detailed in a September announcement, the 600-megawatt photovoltaic solar project involves leased land from the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration in Millard County, but it’s some time away from turning any dirt.
The company is working with state officials to qualify for an alternative energy tax credit for the project and is awaiting approval from Millard County officials for its operating permit.
A benefit of that project, Julian said, is that it is situated close to the Intermountain Power Plant, so transmission of the power wouldn’t be a hurdle.
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