13 new solar arrays to be added to public buildings, school by end of 2021
The city of Steamboat Springs and other governmental partners collaborating in a regional solar installation project have selected vendor McKinstry Essention to construct 12 solar power arrays by the end of this year, including the largest array at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Solar array materials will be delivered in early July, and construction will start in early August for a ground-mounted 418-kilowatt array at the wastewater plant off Routt County Road 33 at a cost of $850,058, including grant money from Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Energy Impact Fund.
“The wastewater treatment plant was selected because it is the city’s largest user of electricity and because we had the ability to install a larger solar array at the site,” said Winnie DelliQuadri, project coordinator for the regional grant and the city’s intergovernmental services manager.
The goals of the overall $4.8 million regional solar installation plan, according to project planner McKinstry, are to increase on-site energy generation, minimize reliance on the local utility, reduce utility costs and improve resiliency of sites.
The project will boost long-term energy efficiency and increase renewable energy operations of 12 regional public buildings in Steamboat, Craig, Hayden, Oak Creek, Yampa, and Routt and Moffat counties. The project is supported by a $2.1 million DOLA grant with partners contributing enough funds so that the cost of each installation will achieve payback within 11 years, DelliQuadri said.
“Currently, all projects are in the permitting phase; however, site work for the projects in Moffat County will start soon,” DelliQuadri said this week. “In general, the installs will start in Moffat County and move toward Hayden, Steamboat, Oak Creek and Yampa. The entire project will be constructed this summer and operational by the end of November.”
The regional project installations will add up to 2,132 kilowatts, or more than 2.1 megawatts of capacity, which is equivalent to powering 355 average American homes, said Mike Kruger, CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.
Construction on another solar array will start this summer for completion in early fall at the new Sleeping Giant School located about 2 miles west of the Steamboat city limits. Colleen Kaneda, Steamboat Springs School District owner’s representative for the bond program, said the 150-kilowatt system will be constructed by Custom Solar from Boulder. The $250,000 array will be located near U.S. Highway 40 on the south end of the school site.
Solar power is on the minds of municipal leaders for new construction, too. DelliQuadri said the city of Steamboat “is looking at putting solar into the new fire station when we get to the point of constructing it.” Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan noted that a solar installation is an option for the county’s new Health and Human Services building.
“Our HHS building is being designed with structural elements and electrical conduits from the roof to the basement electrical room to accommodate a future solar install,” Corrigan said. “I believe it is highly likely that we will install a solar array on the roof in the not-too-far-distant future.”
Solar installer Matt Piva, owner of Brightside Solar in Steamboat, said he continues to see very strong interest this year from residential solar customers in the region. He said the two-year extension earlier this year of federal tax credits for solar installations is great for business and local solar customers.
Solar array installations to be completed this year at regional public buildings, listed by size, include:
Steamboat Wastewater Treatment Plant, 418 KW
Craig Wastewater Treatment Plant, 271 KW
Yampa Valley Regional Airport, 250 KW
Moffat County High School, 243 KW
Craig Water Treatment Plant, 209 KW
Hayden Center, 209 KW
Hayden Wastewater Treatment Plant, 209 KW
Moffat County Safety Center, 209 KW
Sleeping Giant School, 150 KW
Steamboat Transit Operations Center, 41 KW
Hayden Police Station, 36 KW
Oak Creek Town Hall, 20 KW
Yampa Emergency Services Building, 12 KW
“We have found that the demand for solar locally is very high, and it is the result of people recognizing that the technology truly does work, that they can save money long term, and these tax credits make it a good investment,” Piva said.
Although federal tax credits for residential solar were previously set to drop Dec. 31, federal measures this spring extended credits. Through the end of 2022, owners of both new residential and commercial solar can take a credit of 26% of the system cost off their federal tax burden, which then steps down to 22% through the end of 2023. In 2024, owners of new commercial solar energy systems only can receive a 10% tax credit, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Solar installer Colin McCaulley at Sunwise Solar in Steamboat said the extension of federal tax credits is “fantastic,” noting that one of his recent installations was at a ranch in Hayden. McCaulley said vendor information earlier this year for solar panels show a continued increase in efficiency and options for panels, which can lead to lower number of panels necessary for an install and thus lowered project costs.
More information about solar in Routt County can be found at the combined city/county informational website at SteamboatSprings.net/solar.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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