SLC Officials Break Ground on Solar Farm

An artistic rendering of Salt Lake City's new solar farm. (Source: Salt Lake City Mayor's Office)

An artistic rendering of Salt Lake City’s new solar farm. (Source: Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office)

(KCPW News) Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker broke ground on a new solar farm in the city on Tuesday. The new facility will be built over a former landfill, and cover four acres of land.

Mayor Becker and other city officials showed up to the future solar farm in a zero-emissions Nissan Leaf. He says construction of the solar power station makes good use of a site that was considered unusable for most purposes.

“In a way, it’s a perfect setting for us to take advantage of a large area that’s available in the city that can be used to produce renewable solar energy for us, and at the same time make use of some land that otherwise is not usable for many other purposes,” Becker says.

The new array of solar panels is a companion project to the new Public Safety Building. That building, which opened this year, was built with the goal of earning a “net zero” energy rating, meaning that all energy consumed is offset by renewable energy sources. The new solar farm helps the Public Safety Building attain that goal.

City Sustainability Director Vicky Bennett says the increasing affordability of solar power is making projects like this one more viable.

“I think of when I put solar (panels) on my home a few years ago, and the price I paid. What this is now costing, it’s about a quarter of the price, coming down even in a four-year period,” Bennett says. “With a reduction in prices like that, it really is making it so solar is a cost-competitive form of energy.”

According to Bennett, the solar farm will cost $3 million, with money coming from the bond used to construct the Public Safety Building and a renewable energy fund. It will produce enough electricity for approximately 150 homes.