The map displays all private parcels in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties suitable for utility-interconnected solar development based on four main criteria:
- Proximity to electric service infrastructure: The viable distance from a solar development to the point of grid interconnection is somewhat dependent on the size of the project and specific project economics. For the purposes of this study, sites within 500 ft. of a 3-phase distribution line were selected for inclusion.
- Site acreage: To maintain some economies of scale, the first round of site search focused on parcels with 10+ usable acres. To be inclusive of the potential for smaller projects, a second-round search included smaller sites of 5-10 usable acres.
- Physical limitations: Sites were then assessed for physical characteristics that may preclude development, such as slopes greater than 10% or wetlands and large bodies of water.
- Land ownership: Parcels under federal or state government ownership, such as state wildlife areas, national forest and BLM lands, were excluded.
Parcels are then color-coded to indicate one of three statuses:
- Meets pre-qualification criteria
- Meets criteria and landowner has been contacted
- Meets criteria and landowner has indicated interest in solar on the site
Users can click on any parcel to view acreage, ownership, zoning and other data. The map also displays various GIS layers indicating farmland, bedrock depth, wetlands and flood zones, and percentage of slope.
How the tool was created
To identify utility-scale generation sites in the region, the team contracted with National Land Realty, which has a GIS solar mapping platform that could be customized to create a mapping portal.
NLR created base mapping layers, and then used LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging, a laser-powered remote sensing method), GIS (Geographic Information System mapping) and parcel data from the Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield county assessor offices to analyze characteristics and properties of land parcels and identify suitable sites for solar development. NLR’s analysts then manually reviewed each parcel to measure how much solar could be built.
This map is one component of a Three-County Regional Solar and Storage planning project, made possible through a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, local matches from Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, and in-kind support from Holy Cross Energy.
The project is administered by Garfield Clean Energy and staffed by CLEER, CORE and Walking Mountains Sustainability.