CEDAR CITY —Representatives from private business and local government gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony for a 200-megawatt solar project in Iron County that is expected to create jobs and generate tax revenue.
The ceremony was held on September 12 by rPlus Energies, a subsidiary of Gardner Company, at the Lund Highway construction site in celebration of the Appaloosa Solar 1 project. A crowd sat on wooden benches, with an expansive open space and the Three Peaks Solar project to their right, as nine representatives spoke.
Looking at a map of Utah that focuses on renewable energy efficiency, Danny Stewart, director of Cedar City’s Office of Economic Development, said Iron County was “ideal” for solar power generation.
“We have plenty of sun,” he says. “We have high altitude, cooler temperatures and all the things that make this an ideal place.”
rPlus Energies CEO and President Luigi Resta laid the groundwork for more than a dozen projects, Stewart added.
“He basically helped remove all the obstacles to allow this kind of development to happen here and we couldn’t be happier,” he said. “This is extremely important to us in Iron County. This allows us to take advantage of this tremendous solar resource that we have here. It creates jobs for the construction period. It brings in revenue for our county tax offices: the county, the school district, and the water district. And there are so many other benefits.”
There are currently over 5,000 acres of solar panels in Iron County, but many people are unaware of them unless seen from above, he said.
The project began direct development in 2016, Resta told Cedar City News after the groundbreaking. Meta and PacifiCorp offered to buy the power about 1 1/2 years ago. Several partners worked together on the project, including rPlus Energies, Greenbacker, Sundt Renewables and The Gardner Company.
“Getting to this point takes collaboration, vision, dedication and heartfelt perseverance,” he said during his speech. “So I want to thank everyone for all the work they have done in the past and will do in the future and we are warriors right now in the fight to bring renewable energy to the ground. And this is a demonstration of this project and our work.”
The project was named Appaloosa after the area where it will be built, known as Horse Cave, Resta said.
“We have a horse theme going on,” he said.
Memorabilia was made from fence posts removed from the area for project partners, Resta said.
“So it’s a meaningful piece in the sense that this is part of the history that’s been here for 150 years,” he said. “And we turned it into a plastic plaque that sits on your desk, something where you can say, ‘That came from Appaloosa. That came out of the ground in Iron County.’”
The project is likely the largest in the state and will provide the county with a “significant” amount of new tax revenue, Resta said. In addition, around 300 construction jobs will be created for around 18 to 24 months.
“And Iron County is simply the best place in the world to work,” he said.
Meta and PacifiCorp have both been great partners, Resta said.
“It’s a great project,” he said. “Utah is a great state and we’re going to be the leader in the country — showing people how to do it with local people and relying on the resources that are here.”
After the groundbreaking, guests were invited to CAMP AS1 at Three Peaks Oasis, located adjacent to the project site. In an email to Cedar City News, Maile Resta, communications officer at rPlus Energies, said food trucks, drinks and music would be available for attendees.
“CAMP AS1 is designed to celebrate the hard work that has gone into the project so far and the work that is yet to come,” she said.
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