Denver continues to forge ahead with sustainable energy projects, this time with release of a solicitation seeking microgrid developers for the $1 billion National Western Center (NWC).
The city and county have issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for energy developers to help design, build, operate and maintain the microgrid, which includes a district energy system.
The NWC microgrid comes on the heels of Denver’s Peña Station NEXT microgrid, which offers energy for a transit station built as a connector between downtown and the Denver International Airport. That microgrid anchors the energy infrastructure for what eventually is expected to be a 382-acre smart energy community.
With an initial, estimated peak demand of 4.4 MW, the NWC energy project will be built on 250 acres that incorporates the historic National Western Stock Show and the 1909 Stadium Arena, which is undergoing renovation.
Denver is expanding and modernizing an existing 91-acre seasonal site via a multi-phased plan to construct a $1 billion, three million-square-foot, year-round tourism, event, education and agricultural center. The new facility is expected to double its customer visits to about 2.2 million per year.
Part of city’s green ambitions
Denver has set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, and sees the project as another step in that effort.
The city also has established strong clean energy goals for the western center, itself, including LEED Gold Certification and net zero or even positive energy status.
“Building a low-carbon campus is one of the many ways the National Western Center is seeking to pioneer innovative sustainability strategies,” Mayor Michael Hancock said. “By utilizing renewable resources already on-site, we’ll be able to minimize carbon emissions while developing a responsible and sustainable campus for the community today and for future generations.”
The western center will be built in three phases, Phase 1 & 2, plus what’s called The Triangle, a 60-acre expansion planned for future date.
4.4 MW peak demand
Energy requirements for The Triangle have yet to be determined. But for Phase I & 2 total energy demand is expected to be 14,467,838 kWh with electric demand of 13,087,863 kWh (4,412 kW peak). Heat demand is forecast to be 50,177 kBtu/hour; cooling demand 31, 548 kBtu/hour; and gas demand 823 kBtu/hour.
Denver plans to incorporate an energy system into the NWC project that maintains a basic level of microgrid service in isolation from the grid, such as during a utility outage, and will include:
“Our hope is that the National Western Center, upon completion, will be one of the largest campuses powered entirely by renewable energy sources,” said Gretchen Hollrah, executive director of the Mayor’s NWC office.
Denver plans to short list up to four microgrid developers through the RFQ. The chosen companies will be invited to participate in a request for proposals, planned for June. The eventual winner will develop, design, engineer, construct, fund, operate and maintain the integrated campus energy system for the center.
A new authority — the National Western Center Authority — will operate the new campus. The energy partner will recover its investment and operating costs made in the project via a negotiated rate paid by the authority.
The chosen energy partner will manage energy risk for the facility, both electric and thermal, and work with the local utility on any right-of-way conflicts.
Responses from microgrid developers due June 3
The city expects the energy project to be complete by February 2022 with the district energy system online, providing service to the NWC Campus facilities.
RFQ responses are due June 3 by 9 pm MDT. The city expects to choose a short list of microgrid developers by June 15, issue an RFP in June, choose a winner in August, and have a project pre-development agreement in place by September, with a full campus energy agreement in second quarter of 2019.
The city will host a voluntary pre-proposal meeting 10 to 11:30 am, May 11 in the Webb Municipal Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80202 from on first floor in room 1.B.6.
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