The Salt Palace, a convention center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is about to get an impressive designation: owner of the country’s largest rooftop solar array.
The 600,000-square-foot, 2.6 megawatt array will provide a quarter of all the electricity consumed by the Salt Palace when it is finished next year. The array is only slightly bigger than the second largest U.S. rooftop array (a 2.4 megawatt installation atop a New Jersey FedEx building). But according to Ted Rose, vice president of business development and public affairs for NexGen, one of the companies behind the installation, it’s an important milestone.
Here’s how the Salt Palace deal works: Solar installer Bella Energy is building the $10 million system, which NexGen will own and pay for (they beat out a dozen competitors in a four month bidding process for this privilege). NexGen will, in turn, sell power from the system to the county at a fixed rate for the next 20 years. The deal benefits everyone involved–the government gets cheaper power during times of peak demand, taxpayers don’t pay a dime, and NexGen and Bella Energy get bragging rights for the biggest solar array in the country.
The Salt Palace array won’t, Rose says, be the last of this type of installation. “In the absence of federal [renewable energy] policy, state policy and creative economics is kicking in,” Rose says. “Salt Lake County will enjoy benefits right off the bat.”