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.”