Niobrara Energy Park, “World’s Largest Planned Microgrid,” Seeks Buyer

April 29, 2015
The much-watched Niobrara Energy Park, which bills itself as the world’s largest planned microgrid, is now shovel-ready and on the market.

“Pawnee Grassland Sunrise” by Peter Romero

The much-watched 662-acre Niobrara Energy Park, which bills itself as the world’s largest planned microgrid, is now shovel-ready and on the market.

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.

“It offers multiple revenue pathways for an investor along with speed to market. There is nothing else like it in the country.” — Jeff Cushman

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.”

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 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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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

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