Several Yampa Valley buildings get solar upgrade per Steamboat, state agreement |

Several Yampa Valley buildings get solar upgrade per Steamboat, state agreement

Several facilities across Routt County will transition to solar power as parts of Northwest Colorado deepen their commitment to renewable energy.

The city of Steamboat Springs received a $2.1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to support the installation of solar arrays throughout the city and other parts of Routt and Moffat counties. While the first priorities will be the Steamboat Springs Transit office building and the Wastewater Treatment Plant, 13 buildings in the two counties are slated to receive solar arrays as part of the grant.

Under the intergovernmental grant, Steamboat is responsible for dispersing the funds to other involved entities, which include the Craig Wastewater Treatment Plant and Water Treatment Plant, Moffat County Safety Center and Moffat County School District high school campus, Hayden Police Station, Hayden Redevelopment Building and Wastewater Treatment Plant, Steamboat Springs Transit Operations Center, Steamboat Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant, Oak Creek Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall, Yampa Emergency Services Building and Sewer Treatment Plant, and Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

“This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the area,” Steamboat Special Projects/Intergovernmental Services Manager Winnie DelliQuadri told Steamboat Springs City Council members.

McKinstry Co., an engineering company based in Golden, is responsible for installing the panels, with assistance from Yampa Valley Electric Association.

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The grant is part of the state’s Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund, which was created to assist political subdivisions that are socially and/or economically impacted by the development, processing or energy conversion of minerals and mineral fuels, according to a letter written from the Department of Local Affairs to the city.

A feasibility study was conducted by the city in 2020 that found the wastewater treatment plant and transit operations center made the most sense to transition to solar energy due to their high-energy use. City staff members agreed transitioning more city buildings to use solar energy was a long-term goal, as solar is better for the environment and saves costs in the long run.

“Our state is moving toward a clean energy economy, and that has some economic impacts on our region,” DelliQuadri said. “It’s a way for government to move toward clean energy as we’ve been mandated to do and, at the same time, make government operations more efficient by lowering our utility costs.”

Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter said while the solar initiative comes alongside Gov. Jared Polis directing former coal counties to transition to more renewable energy sources, such a change is particularly important for Steamboat as a vacation destination that relies on snow and outdoor sports to sustain its economy. Suiter, who has a bachelor’s degree in climate science, said he has witnessed the negative impacts of climate change in his decades of working in resort towns.

“Everybody is transitioning to the new energy economy,” Suiter said. “Being a resort town, there has to be a sensitivity to climate change and reducing greenhouse gases.”

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