Breckenridge goes solar in a big way

Breckenridge hopes to generate 10 percent of its municipal electricity consumption from several new solar arrays coming online at town facilities.

Renewable energy a big part of town’s long-term sustainability plan

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new array of solar panels in Breckenridge will generate 10 percent of the town’s municipal electricity consumption, officials said Tuesday after flipping a ceremonial switch to turn the system on.

Installed at seven locations, the combined arrays will save the town more than $900,000 in the next 20 years and offset about 18,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Installations are complete on the town’s ice rink, rec center and vehicle maintenance shop, and work is under way to finish arrays at several other town facilities.

“Adopting renewable energy as part of our long term strategic SustainableBreck Plan is right in line with the priorities of the Town of Breckenridge, Mayor John Warner said during the ceremony. Warner was joined by Greg Bohan of Renewable Social Benefit Funds, Eric Westerhoff of Innovative Energy, and Breckenridge Town Councilmember Jennifer McAtamney.

“This plan includes an innovative financing arrangement, environmental and other benefits, as well as novel structure designs for solar in our high alpine environment. I am immensely proud of my community in pioneering this project,” Warner said.

Due to a unique power purchase agreement, RSB Funds is covering the cost of the project installation and maintenance, eliminating any use of public funds for up-front and on-going expenses. Instead, the Town will pay for the solar power generated at each site at a rate lower than they would have paid their current utility provider.

“RSB Funds is pleased to support Breckenridge’s sustainability program,” RSB Funds president Jonathan Jaffrey said earlier this year. “Breckenridge is a leader in the Colorado municipal community in this space, setting a model for going green we hope others will follow,”

RSB Funds hired Martifer Solar USA, an international EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) firm to design, install and maintain the arrays. Martifer partnered with a local Breckenridge-based Innovative Energy, to build the arrays.  The deal saves tax payer dollars and benefit the local economy, according to town officials.

“This is a rare opportunity to both reduce expenses and put renewable energy assets in place,” Breckenridge finance Manager Brian Waldes said last fall. “By partnering with the private sector, the town will enjoy the substantial financial benefits of green energy without any up-front installation costs. The social and environmental benefits are also huge.  We are very excited about this partnership.”


14 thoughts on “Breckenridge goes solar in a big way

  1. Kudos to Breckenridge, going beyond the status quo, indeed, taking next step to independence. The advantage is in the research of solar cells which keep increasing in output, even in mountain conditions during the winter months. With the infrastructure in place, the costs to upgrade will not break the bank, so to speak. A real win – win for all.

  2. Whats the rest of the story here? There’s no way “solar” is cheaper-so where’s the “stimulous” money that went to pay for this? Me sense we’re not hearing “the rest of the story”.

  3. Two points:
    1) $900,000 / 20 years = $45,000/year. Not too much.
    2) Doesn’t it snow a lot up there?
    3) Logger is right: PV cells are really expensive. Some way or another, these are being paid for with federal money borrowed from your great-grandchildren.

  4. Ron and Logger: Anyone who is worried about our grandchildren will recall that when oil pipelines and nuclear energy plants are breached in a hurricane or tornado or earthquake, then water, air, and farmland are fouled forever. In addition to that, anyone worried about our grandchildren knows that their government money will always be part of the billions spent in trying to clean up the ongoing oil and nuclear messes.

    Anyone who is truly worried about our grandchildren will be relieved to know that if solar energy panels get broken or wind turbines fall over, workers are employed to pick up the pieces and rebuild. No harm. No foul.

    1. Except the inconvenient truth that no mater how green you are, there’s no way around the fact that your lifestyle is fueled (pun slightly intended) by large scale drilling of oil, mining of coal and implementation of of nuclear power and the continuous baseline power produced by mega-large power systems. And we can’t forget the ecological destruction in China caused by the mining of rare earth metals (yay Prius!!) and manufacture of computer parts (woo hoo iPad).

  5. Hard to understand exactly what Ron is getting on about here. Debunking Solar? Endorsing Oil & Gas & Coal? Unless he lives under a rock somewhere, then a little snooping would show up the down side of the “big 3”. Pollution, massive pollution from the use of. Drilling, Fractionating, Smog from the rigs, the above ground storage of waste byproducts, especially from Fractionating, consisting of millions of gallons of water infused chemicals that haven’t been detoxified, that are stored in above ground ponds, the tailings from Coal removal, not to mention the desecration of the land, mountain tops, along with water pollution, the smog produced by the drilling rigs, trucks, etc., the Gulf is the most recent example for Oil exploration, but look at what took place in South America in the Jungle, or in Russia, at the pollution, poisoning of both land and water.

    This can & will happen in Colorado if the O & G & Coal industries get their way. They consider the pollution a part of doing business. One might consider this a negative viewpoint, but look at Alberta Canada Tar Sands operation, the damage done to the environment up there, is this what the people of Colorado want their state to look like? I might add, they are going to drill in the Arctic for oil, but with the tract record that seems to be getting worse as the drilling becomes more difficult, so to the pollution danger, which I’m afraid wont be fixed if a blowout happens with Corexit.

    My apologies for the long write up, but I believe that vigilance in the matter is of the utmost importance, due to the ongoing corruption in the various governmental agencies that allow the wild west give away of resources.

    1. Endorsing Oil & Gas & Coal?

      “Endorse” is too strong of a word. “Acceptance” is better.

      Unless you want to live in a pre-industrial world with a small fraction of the current population, get over your dislike of Big Oil, Gas & Coal and push the gov’t to work on safer methods of nuclear fission.

      Unless he lives under a rock somewhere

      That would be Ted Kaczynski.

      down side of the “big 3″.

      You forgot to mention mercury poisoning and acid rain from burning coal.

      the Gulf is the most recent example for Oil exploration

      I live in New Orleans, so fully understand the consequences of drilling in the Gulf.

  6. Unless you want to. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ! I might add, there is no safer method to nuclear fission. As you yourself point out the other downsides of O & G & C, getting over it isn’t in any way conducive to insuring the future needs of this country. I presume that your living in New Orleans, that you eat the fish from your local area too. Bon Appetit, as it’s too early to tell how it will effect the human digestive system. I wonder, are you associated with the industry? I presume you will want the last word, so you have the stage.

  7. Ron and Logger: Google “Iowa wind turbines,” and you’ll see that wind turbines supplied nearly 20% of Iowa’s energy during the first part of 2011. I know it’s not California or New York or Texas, but you must admit that the statistics are pretty impressive. Imagine all that energy with no threat of fouling our grandchildren’s air or water or land in case of an accident.

    There’s hope when industries such as solar and wind make such strides. When you consider all the disastrous sticky and poisonous consequences we’ve seen from investing in oil and nuclear power, you have to appreciate what scientists have done to develop wind and solar. And you have to appreciate what communities have done to promote them.

  8. I do drive a car, and I do everything in my power to drive it as little as possible. I ride my bike a LOT, commuting, errand running, and such. If there were opportunities to take a train to Denver and/or the airport, I would pay a fair amount of money to do so. I really can only applaud when my elected officials choose to spend my tax money on what I think is the right move. It might not be perfect, but it’s a super strong move in the right direction.

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