Salt Lake City -- Salt Lake County and its project partners announced today the construction of one of the largest roof-top solar panel installations in the United States.

The estimated 600,000 square-foot system will be built atop the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. When completed, the system may produce up to 2.6 megawatts of electricity, one-quarter of the annual needs of the convention center.

The project is a big step toward achieving Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon's goal to install a total of 10 megawatts of solar power on as many county-owned facilities as possible.

"This solar project is exactly what we need in Salt Lake County," said Mayor Corroon. "It will help keep our air clean but won't hurt our pocketbooks."

The project is a public-private partnership, and will utilize a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) financing model. Salt Lake County will partner with Bella Energy, which will build the system, and NexGen Energy Partners, which will own, operate and maintain the system, providing power to the county at a fixed rate. The project will also employ public and private capital, Federal grants, and public/private subsidized bonds that work in concert through the federal stimulus package.

The support of Representatives Jim Matheson and Rob Bishop resulted in federal funding for the project.

"This project will make an important contribution to Utah's renewable energy portfolio," said Rep. Jim Matheson. "It's the start of a transition toward energy independence."

When completed, the solar project will more than double the solar capacity of the state.

"The Salt Palace project is setting a national example for renewable energy," said Ted Rose, vice president of business development and public affairs for NexGen. "With a ground-breaking public-private partnership driving it, this project will place Utah at the forefront of solar development. It proves once again that large rooftops can successfully provide power from the sun that benefits both the environment and the bottom line."

Salt Lake County has worked with Rocky Mountain Power to maximize the productivity of the solar installation, a relationship which is key to the project's success.

"Rocky Mountain Power congratulates Salt Lake County on the announcement of the Salt Palace solar power project," said Rocky Mountain Power President Richard Walje. "As a national leader in the production of renewable electricity, we look forward to continuing our partnership with the county. We look forward to learning from the county's experience as it builds and operates this landmark project."

The Partners:

NexGen Energy Partners, LLC is an owner and operator of distributed renewable energy systems sited at customers' facilities. The company works with governments, schools, businesses and utilities across the nation to deliver its customers the benefits of clean energy without the capital investment and technical risk. NexGen Energy is based in Boulder, Colorado.

Bella Energy is the Rocky Mountain region's leading full-service renewable energy systems integrator, project developer and design-build solar contractor. Founded in 1982, Bella Energy has 35 employee-owners working at the company headquarters outside Denver and in Salt Lake City. Bella Energy's projects can be found across the Western United States and in eight foreign countries.

Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center boasts 515,000 square feet (47,800 m2) of exhibit space, 164,000 square feet (15,200 m2) of meeting space including a 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) grand ballroom, and 66 meeting rooms. The Salt Palace served as the Olympic Media Center during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The facility's roof will serve as an ideal host for the 2.6 MW solar panel system. Four years ago, more than 100 solar panels were installed to light the convention center's new parking structure.

Contact: Kimi Barnett, SLCo Environmental Coordinator