Colorado Developer Puts "World's Largest Planned Microgrid" on the Market

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Colorado’s 662-acre Niobrara Energy Park, which calls itself the world’s largest planned microgrid, is now shovel-ready and seeking buyers.

Cushman & Wakefield announced early Wednesday that it is acting as exclusive agent for the sale of the northern Colorado project, under development for five years by Colorado land and resouce broker, Craig Harrison.

Dubbed NED for short, the project  stands apart in the microgrid world because of its sheer size and complexity.

While most microgrids serve a handful of buildings, at best, and manage a couple of generation sources,  NED has secured permits for 52 data centers, a 200-MW gas-fired plant, a 50-MW solar farm, 50 MW of fuel cells, other energy sources, and a range of energy storage technologies: compressed air, batteries, fly wheel, thermal and hydrogen storage, super capacitators and super conductors.

“This opportunity is highly unique in its size, scale and scope,” said Jeffrey Cole of Cushman & Wakefield’s Irvine, California office. “We will be marketing this property to investors on a national and international basis, targeting everyone from data center investors, to users that would require cloud computing, to power company investors, telecom centers, local developers, green energy providers, and even certain Wall Street infrastructure funds.”

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The developer envisions the microgrid managing retail power within the project’s borders and selling any excess power into the wholesale market. The electricity would transfer at the Ault substation, 22 miles to the south, and be sold at one of Colorado’s busiest interconnects.

“It’s an energy park, with the ability to provide its own microgrid,” said Cole. “The on-site energy sources include natural gas and a major electrical infrastructure, and plans call for a multitude of renewable energy sources. It also has its own water rights, as well as transcontinental fiber connection with access to 21 fiber carriers or providers.

The project includes within its borders triple 230-kV power lines with dual feed direction from four substations, triple natural gas lines, a fiber-optic backbone with diverse carriers and a private 100 million gallons per year water supply.

“With special approvals from the state and county in place, it is very rare to have a property of this size with zoning and energy sources already on-site,” Cole said.

NED is named after the Niobrara gas and oil shale formation in northeast Colorado. Niobrara also means running water — which has been found under the site.

The project is zoned for the 52 energy and data center uses, as well as Cloud data centers, energy-consuming manufacturing, natural gas power plants, solar, wind, and energy storage, with environmental waivers. Energy-related zoning includes up to 50 MW of solar, geothermal and wind, and unlimited energy storage, as well as up to 650 MW of natural gas plants and fuel cell power plants, and more, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

It is located near I-25 and US 85 between urban areas of Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming.

“NED represents a unique opportunity to acquire a strategically located shovel-ready site with extraordinary energy and fiber infrastructure along with entitlements and zoning for a broad range of industrial and energy-related development,” said Jeff Cushman, executive managing director, Cushman & Wakefield. “It offers multiple revenue pathways for an investor along with speed to market. There is nothing else like it in the country.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

Comments

  1. Just_Chris says:

    When dose a micro-grid become just a regular grid? this particular micro-grid at 50% utilization would produce more power in a year than the nation of Samoa?

    Symantec’s aside, looks like a great project, is there any information of what the carbon intensity of the grid is?

    • Just_Chris says:

      Oh cr*p, minor number crunching error Somoa only requires 31 MW of power generation, so this grid is about 21 times bigger than the nation of Samoa, sorry but the point still stands, this grid is bigger than some national grids…. all be it small nations.

      I should know better than trying to be cleaver in the morning.

  2. Elisa Wood Elisa Wood says:

    Hi Chris. Point well taken. True, the semantics can get messy. But this is a grid-connected microgrid in the sense that it’s a smaller grid within Colorado’s larger grid. And it has the classic ability of a grid-connected microgrid to either work as a part of the larger grid or island from it when circumstances warrant. So, in defining a microgrid, I think it’s not so much about size as it is about situation and abilities.

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