As soon as spring weather arrives, developers of the Artspace Solar Gardens property near downtown Salt Lake City plan to install a 315-kilowatt solar power array on its roof and parking garage.
The project, funded in part through Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky program, will feature nearly 1,000 solar panels that are expected to generate enough electricity to meet all the power needs of the 30 residential and 15 commercial office units in the mixed-use development.
Without $320,000 in Blue Sky funding, developers would have had enough money to build a system only half the size, said Jessica Norie, executive director of Artspace. Artspace operates five mixed-use properties in and around downtown Salt Lake City, including the Solar Gardens under construction at 400 W. 850 South.
The Solar Gardens system is one of 20 projects the electrical utility is funding this year, to the tune of a combined $1.8 million.
Since 2006, Rocky Mountain Power has supported more than 80 community-based, renewable-energy projects, said utility spokesman Jeff Hymas.
In Blue Sky, consumers pay a premium on their monthly electricity bills $1.95 for each 100 kilowatt-hour block of Blue Sky energy they buy to support electricity production from renewable resources.
When a customer commits to buying one or more blocks, the utility pledges that a similar quantity of electricity generated from wind farms or other renewable resources will be put on the regional distribution grid.
The value of the 20 awards this year ranged from $22,000 to $320,000. Last year, Rocky Mountain Power provided $1.1 million in Blue Sky funding for 12 projects.
Hymas said funding varies from year to year but has been rising as more Utahns participate in the program and the cost of solar energy and wind-power generation declines.
The utility's president and CEO, Richard Walje, said the awards will enable funded groups to use a renewable resource to generate electricity and save money on their energy bills and reduce their environmental footprint while promoting awareness of renewable energy and how it works.
Although this year all the funding went to solar energy systems, initiatives that support production of wind, biomass, landfill gas, low-impact hydro- and geothermal energy also are eligible.
Blue Sky project funding
Year Projects Funding Level
2006 7 $448,032
2007 9 $426,000
2008 12 $781,824
2009 13 $797,640
2010 9 $757,460
2011 12 $1,116,598
2012 20 $1,795,820
Total 82 $6,123,374
Source: Rocky Mountain Power
Blue Sky Projects 2013
Artspace Solar Gardens, Salt Lake City, a 315-kilowatt system.
Summit County Health Department, Park City, a 40-kilowatt system.
National Ability Center, Park City, a 30-kilowatt system.
Kostopulos Dream Foundation-Camp Kostopulos, Salt Lake City, a 28-kilowatt system.
Salt Lake City - Plaza 349 Building, a 25-kilowatt system.
Southwest Applied Technology College, Cedar City, a 24.96-kilowatt system.
Tooele Applied Technology College, Tooele, a 20.16-kilowatt system.
Mountainland Applied Technology College, Orem, a 20.16-kilowatt system.
University of Utah - Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building, a 20.09-kilowatt system.
Weilenmann School of Discovery, Park City, a 20-kilowatt system.
Mountainville Academy, Alpine, a 20-kilowatt system.
Salt Lake City School District Community Learning Center, a 10.3-kilowatt system.
Salt Lake Arts Academy, Salt Lake City, a 10-kilowatt system.
Lakeview Academy, Saratoga Springs, a 10-kilowatt system.
Providence Hall, Herriman, a 10-kilowatt system.
Excelsior Academy, Erda, a 10-kilowatt system.
Syracuse Arts Academy, Syracuse, a 10-kilowatt system.
Spectrum Academy High School, North Salt Lake, a 9.84-kilowatt system.
South Salt Lake Columbus Center, South Salt Lake, a 9.36-kilowatt system.
Mount Tabor Lutheran Church, Salt Lake City, a 4.8-kilowatt system.