Hot Sheet

Once a city of smokestacks, Pueblo’s future looks a lot sunnier

Author: Kara Mason - December 18, 2017 - Updated: December 18, 2017

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solar panels(iStock Image / Sophie_James)

Is the Steel City poised to be Colorado’s Solar City? It’s looking like it. Pueblo County was recently named one of the sunniest places in the county and recognized for its emphasis on growing the solar energy industry.

Last week, Pueblo County earned a Bronze SolSmart plaque for being solar friendly. The award comes from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We have worked very hard to make it fast, easy and affordable to go solar in Pueblo County. Hopefully, this award and designation will send a signal to solar companies, both commercial and residential, that Pueblo County is open for solar business,” Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart said in a statement.

That hard work may be translating into jobs soon, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. A recent report from the newspaper speculated from state documents that a “700-worker solar factory and solar farm sought by an undisclosed India company” may be eyeing Pueblo. The economic development corporation wouldn’t confirm, however.

Pueblo is currently home to the largest solar farm east of the Mississippi River. It’s located on 900-acres of private land. But a news release from Pueblo County said local government “has been entertaining an offer to build the world’s largest solar farm on Pueblo County soil.” It’s unclear if that’s the same project the Chieftain referenced in its reporting.

The county government has been doing its part to usher in solar energy too, installing solar panels where it can. Earlier this year the city resolved to run on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Part of that non-binding decision was based on Pueblo’s familiarity with renewable energy — the city is also home to a Vestas manufacturing plant where turbines are constructed — and the high energy prices the city faces.

SolSmart says Pueblo gets almost as much sun as the nation’s sunshine capital, Yuma, Arizona. In November, the city saw more than 20 days with temperatures in the 60s and, of course, the sun was shining.

Kara Mason

Kara Mason

Kara Mason covers southern Colorado, Aurora and statewide issues for ColoradoPolitics.com. She also writes for the Aurora Sentinel.