Colorado Alternative Energy, Where's the facts? 25.5 Mega Watts?

Alamosa-Congentrix-30MW-power plant

Alamosa-Congentrix-30MW-power plant

Many of us know of Otherpower, a great example of a place where good results and not so good are shared..  Good ideas, or not so good ideas, we learn about them, and whether they weathered a storm, or became a twisted pile of metal in some lonely pasture. But what about commercial grade solar? Where do we go to get the truth?

Here’s a place to start:

Congentrix Announcement, Let’s parse >their< announcement that follows


*Fantastic! One of the first, the world will be anxious to see how it performs, especially the Stake holders! 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—May 10, 2011—U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a $90.6 million loan guarantee to Cogentrix of Alamosa, LLC. The loan guarantee will support the construction of the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, a 30 megawatt (MW) net capacity High Concentration Solar Photovoltaic (HCPV) generation project located in south-central Colorado near the city of Alamosa. Cogentrix estimates the project will create about 75 construction jobs and 10 operations jobs. The project will source over 80 percent of its components from the U.S.

* 75 construction jobs, we know these are temps, but 10 operations jobs, OK, we’ll note that.

“Colorado has long been a leader in the development and deployment of renewable energy, and this project builds on that record,” said Secretary Chu. “By deploying an innovative, commercially-ready technology at utility scale, the Alamosa Solar Generating Project is increasing the generation of clean, renewable power, creating jobs and strengthening the U.S. economy.”

This paragraph leads us to believe that Steven Chu has signed off as fact that the latest version of the Amonix 7700 >is< commercially ready. How about we be the judge of that? Fact is, he’s forced us to invest in this power plant, and we are stake holders.   

“Today’s announcement from the Department of Energy is exciting news for Colorado,” said U.S. Senator Mark Udall. “With this significant financial commitment, Cogentrix will have the tools to finish construction on one of the largest and most innovative photovoltaic solar power plants in the country — as well as create a significant number of jobs in the San Luis Valley. I have long been a supporter of smart renewable energy projects, and I look forward to watching Cogentrix’ plans unfold.”

I love this paragraph above: Mark Udall looks forward to watching Congentrix plans unfold. It reminds me of how the Las Vegas Sun covered the “unfolding of the Amonix plans”, untill the power plants we built and shipped out of town. I found it curious to say the least, it gets built, and media quits talking about it right when when an idea becomes a reality. 

I did finally.. all too slowly figure out Las Vegas.. what seemed to be a total lack of interest in a big story was really nothing more than Las Vegas living up to it’s motto:  “What happens here stays here.”   

We now have a chance to see if Mark Udall is a typical  Politician who will say and do whatever he needs in order to retain the support of those who don’t care if this power plant ever makes a watt of power, or if he will assure that we see the results of the power production, same as New Mexico has done with the Hatch power plant.

“This is great news for the San Luis Valley and for the entire state’s new energy economy,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “This new solar facility will further solidify Colorado’s lead in clean energy, create good-paying jobs, and provide a much-needed economic boost for the San Luis Valley and all of Colorado.”

We DIYers know that one of the keys to personal investment is to actually measure the results of our creations.  Will Senator Bennet have any interest in sharing the facts of power production with us Stake Holders?  What about these job numbers? seems to me they are tied to the real power production numbers, and the ability of the power plant to fund those jobs ongoing.   

The proposed facility will use innovative HCPV systems consisting of concentrating optics and multi-junction solar cell panels that are controlled by a dual-axis tracking system. The tracking system rotates and tilts the cells throughout the day so the surface of the solar panel maintains an optimal angle with respect to the sun. According to the project sponsor, the multi-junction solar cells are nearly 40 percent efficient or about double that of more traditional PV panels used in areas with high amounts of direct sunlight, such as Alamosa County. The Alamosa Solar Generating Project will sell all of its electricity output to Public Service Company of Colorado. The facility will produce approximately 75,000 megawatt hours of clean renewable energy per year, enough to power over 6,500 homes, and will avoid the emissions of over 43,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Ahh! lookie here, expectations shared! >they< are expecting to make about 25.5MWs each hour over an eight hour day. We DIYers know there’s wind that keeps the trackers stowed, there’s days not so bright, short days, long days, maintenance days, and more. Does this figure seem a little optimistic? We need not judge a thing,  just show us the Data, and allow us to decide. Let Las Vegas be your guide…Politicians and their minions  have no interest in facts less it serve to keep them in office one more term.  

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office administers loan guarantee programs that support the deployment of innovative technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program, which supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies. Including both programs, DOE has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $30 billion to support 28 clean energy projects across the United States. The program’s 12 generation projects produce nearly 25 million megawatt-hours annually, enough to power over two million homes. Including the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, the program has committed over $7.5 billion in loan guarantees to solar generation projects. DOE has also issued conditional commitments or loan guarantees to support numerous other projects, such as four of the world’s largest solar projects, two geothermal projects, the world’s largest wind farm and the nation’s first new nuclear power plant in three decades. For more information, please visit the .

There’s that word again innovative, most of us recognize it as a Marketing bull shit word, we do expect politicians to sprinkle it here and there, but isn’t it a fact that all we want is the facts? If you visit the NREL, you can find promotional material for Amonix, but I have a hard time finding any coverage of the NREL learning from the most important data of all, that being real world data from the field.  Have you seen one article at the NREL discussing field trips to Hatch or Alamosa?  Anything about real power generation VS the marketing bull shit numbers you see above?

Yes! you’ve been learning from the Alternative realists for years, and they’ve taught you it doesn’t matter how innovative something is, Alternative Energy is little different than harvesting rain falling from the sky, it’s what we are able to direct into the bucket that counts, and an accurate measure.

My hero list includes folks like Hugh Piggott, Hugh has a lot of practical experience, and some of his most basic basic lessons are about the fact that your machinery must remain in operation to make any return on investment to you. rugged and reliable operation is proven in the field, not in some lab. certainly Dan B, and Dan F not only have that knowledge, but they teach it. 

I continue to study Amonix, Hatch, Alamosa for a good reason, current events, and real equipment in the field should be the focus of our studies. Why would we use Marketing hype? Why would we trust any Politician of any party WHEN we have the real numbers, the real maintenance figures, the real power production contracts to look at?

It’s all so simple, and I add a new Hero to my personal list of Heros this year. I’m not surprised to learn he’s an engineer, not surprised to see him in the field, and those clothes he wears? Yes, his title might suggest he’d wear a suit, but I’d bet he spends most of his time in work clothes, and if we had a chance to shake his hand, I bet we’d find a callous or two from his DIY 🙂  That Person is Richard Turner of El Paso Electric. Rich has this thing about facts and figures, he was likely born that way.. I’m sure his Mom cried when she learned that her little boy would likely grow up to be an Engineer, while the other kids were playing hard…dreaming of the Free Energy Hojo Motor, maybe even buying the plans to build it, Rich was likely looking for the details.  New Mexico and EPE have set the standard, they place a meter between them and those who sell them Alternative energy. It is the ethical and honest thing to do, it’s what this company appears to be all about, and for us retired folks looking for utility stocks to invest in, ones that actually produce dividends.. we need consider EPE, it’s not what you preach, it’s your deeds that count.

The DOE reminds me of a carless man who tosses any seed into the ground, and never keeps notes as to what seed grows into useful plants.  Notice I didn’t make reference to a Farmer.. because a Farmer would be out of business the first or second year with this practice.

When we find we are the stake holders, we should demand access to the facts, if they want to keep things a secret, no problem, they only need fund it themselves, and leave me off the list of stake holders.

We need learn from Mother Nature, Her door is always open, we may never discover all of Her secrets, but it won’t be because she’s put up a fence, and locked us out of the field. I will always remember that School Teacher that told me.. “I don’t care if solar works in our area or not, I want to do the right thing.” I bowed my head in silent prayer that day, because I know there are so many that agree with her….. “God help Us.”  

That page where I found the Congentrix post is here.

The power Meters that EPE provides to their Stake Holders, and rate Payers is here.  

Have a great Sunday.. and oh yes, I can hear the gears in the heads of true DIYers turning.. you are wondering if EPE will be asked to remove those power meters, so not to embarrass certain folks in Colorado, Nevada and beyond? Will you remain silent if that happens? 

At the end of the day.. it’s all BS unless you actullay measure the results… , I guess we’ll see how BS plays in Colorado…. won’t we?   




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4 Responses to Colorado Alternative Energy, Where's the facts? 25.5 Mega Watts?

  1. Brian says:

    Interesting photo. Makes me wonder about these farm circles surrounding this HCPV site. How many BTUs in Biodiesel these could produce over a year compared to the HCPV site. Yes there’s the carbon dioxide from burning Biodiesel but that’s not scientifically proven to harm our planet since our planet has been actually cooling.

    • George B. says:

      Don’t have a clue, seems to me the food poduction is important.. if we stick with the facts, Hatch is making about 60% of it’s output most of the time. Alamosa being higher should have even more troubles, according to my therories on the Multi Junctions and additional heating!

      I think there’s a desparate game beig played by Congentrix, they know alamosa needs a lot of work… Amonix might be telling them more money is coming, don’t throw a fit.. stay cool and quiet, and we’ll fix the place once we get money…

      My bet… and I’m taking bets.. there’s not enough money in any pocket to fix Alamosa, this plant will not make a return on investmetn … ever, sound harsh? Congentrix best be looking at getting out of the power production contract now.

      And… where is that Amonix Engineer who did the Quality control for the Hatch stuff? wonder what he’s doing in the way of QC on this week?

      Yes.. you’re right no one does care..

  2. George B. says:

    Green Tech Media Reports the following….

    We’ve noticed a large number of senior Amonix employees showing up at other companies, including:
    • Paul Russell, former SVP of engineering at Amonix, is now senior VP of engineering at ArrayPower, the solar distributed electronics firm.
    • Geoffrey S. Kinsey, previously Senior Director of R&D at Amonix, is now at The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems as the Director of its Photovoltaic Technologies Group.

    MY commment: I wonder if the aforementioned individuals could drop by Hatch New Mexico and give Next Era a few pointers on how to get more than 60 some percent out of their last creation?

  3. Hi George B,
    I just stumbled across this and, I am really considering the alternative energy engineering field, does anyone recognize how I will determine the best rated universities with this type of program? Is there is anybody in the industry who may suggest a good school? I am in southern Colorado, but would consider relocation for school. Thanks all.
    I look forward to your next post

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