Black Hills Energy has reached agreements with county and state officials on a 200-megawatt solar project in Pueblo that the utility said would boost the share of its electricity coming from renewable sources to 51%.

The project is the centerpiece of the utility’s plan to lower customers’ costs across its service area, Black Hills Energy said in a statement Tuesday. If the installation is approved by state regulators, the utility estimates it  could lower costs by $66 million over 15 years.

Construction would begin in 2021 and the arrays would start operating in 2023. One megawatt of solar energy can supply electricity to 200 to 250 homes.

Black Hills Energy said the project has support from the community, consumer and environmental advocates, staffers at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and Office of Consumer Counsel and Pueblo city and county officials. The PUC will consider whether to approve the project.

Black Hills Energy spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said an extension of a transmission line between Pueblo and Canon City is needed for the solar project to move forward. The Pueblo County commissioners are considering the upgrade.

Vance Crocker, Black Hills Energy’s vice president in southern Colorado, said the solar installation is expected to create 250 construction jobs, produce $178 million in economic benefits, including tax revenue, and help cut carbon emissions 71% by 2024.

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