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Project Profile: Southern Ute Indian Tribe Oxford Solar Project, Ignacio, Colorado

Solar panels.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s 1.3-MW solar array went online June 2017

Source: Credit to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Project Name

Southern Ute Indian Tribe Oxford Solar Project


Ignacio, Colorado

Project Sponsor / Borrower

Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Program Areas

Public-Private PartnershipProject FinanceValue Capture

Value Capture Techniques

Solar Energy Use & ROW Use Agreements


Other: Solar Farm


In 2017, the Southern Ute Tribe completed a photovoltaic (PV) system on its 681,306-acre Reservation in southwest Colorado. They chose the Oxford Tract as the best location because it did not contain any threatened or endangered species, was close to local electric cooperative La Plata Electric Association, and had elements that limited the land’s suitability for residential or agricultural use. The project site repurposes more than 10 acres of tribal land that was mostly unusable due to naturally occurring selenium contamination.

The project included the development of a large PV array (a 1.3-megawatt [MW], ground-mounted solar PV system) that utilizes economies of scale to achieve a low installed cost per kilowatt (kW). The approach eliminated costly building upgrades while enabling the buildings to take full advantage of clean power even if the rooftop size and surrounding land would not. The project also furthered the Tribe's goal of reducing operating costs by providing less expensive power over the 30-year life of the solar panels.

The Oxford Solar Facility is intended to reduce energy costs for the Tribe and increase local clean energy. The system’s 4,000 individual solar panels provide energy to 10 tribal buildings on the Reservation through an agreement with La Plata Electric Association. The buildings were chosen due to their location and ability to offset greater than 15 percent of fuel usage through electrical savings.

The project was partially funded by a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-Tribal Energy Program. The Tribe also participated in the DOE Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team Program, which provided technical assistance for the project.

During its first year of operation, the Oxford Solar Facility generated 2,772,977 kWs of electricity–exceeding expectations for the initial year and representing 111.9 percent of the kWs for the buildings selected to benefit from the facility.



Funding Sources
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe/Southern Ute Indian Tribe
Project Delivery / Contract Method

Engineer-Procure-Construct (EPC)

Private Partner
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe - Southern Ute Growth Fund (Southern Ute Alternative Energy)
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe - Southern Ute Indian Tribe
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe - Environmental Programs
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe - Water Resources
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe - Facilities & others
Project Advisors / Consultants
  • La Plata Electric Association
  • Namaste Solar Electric Inc. (construction of the project)
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • Tribal Energy Program
  • Office of Indian Energy-START
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)


Duration / Status

The final project design was completed in summer 2016 with construction beginning that fall. The project was operational and complete in June of 2017.

Financial Status / Financial Performance

In 2014, the Tribe applied for and was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy-Tribal Energy Program and the Tribe paid for the remaining costs.

  • Reduces operating costs for Southern Ute Indian Tribe - offsets 15 percent of energy used by 10 tribal buildings over projected 30-year lifespan.
  • Improves sustainability and increases economic and environmental benefits to the Tribe through the development of a clean-energy business operation.
  • Use of land unfit for residential or agricultural projects.
  • Increases Tribal energy security through the use of local clean energy generation and build the capacity of the Tribe to develop additional clean energy projects
Related Links / Articles

Brent Brown
Construction Project Manager
(970) 764-6420

Solar farm.

There are over five acres of perennial plants, shrubs, and over 500 trees along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

Sources: Credit to Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc.

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