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SkyHook Solar brings renewable, resilient energy to Snowmass and beyond

In early October, the town of Snowmass Village completed its four-building solar project, helping the town move closer to achieving its sustainability goals.

But while this months-long project is the town’s biggest push toward producing and utilizing more renewable energy, there’s another smaller, unique Snowmass solar project that’s recently been put in place — the four-panel SkyHook Solar station set up in the Town Park parking lot.

Designed by the Woody Creek-based company SkyHook Solar, the portable solar station can charge one electric vehicle at one time and will be set up in the Town Park lot for the next year as a sort of test-run for potential continued partnership and station expansion, according to assistant town manager Travis Elliott.

“The town kind of already had a need because there definitely are a lot of days of the year that the (EV chargers) we do have are full, and because SkyHook doesn’t require any real hard infrastructure it was a real convenient and easy option,” Elliott explained of the town’s decision to try out the SkyHook Station in Town Park.

“In terms of cost to the town it was little to none, so it was a no brainer for us … Our plan is to evaluate the station for the year, see how it works, see how great of an alternative it really is to a traditional EV charger and if it is, I totally see it as a really cost-effective solution for us.”

Elliott said the idea to partner with SkyHook Solar and bring one of its stations to Snowmass roots back to December when SkyHook officials gave an informational presentation to the town’s Environmental Advisory Board on their company, its stations and its mission to help combat climate change by creating grid-independent, resilient renewable energy options.

Daniel Delano, president, CEO and one of three co-founders of SkyHook, explained that right now those options include different models of the SkyHook Solar station and a solar generator that can provide clean, off-the-grid power in a multitude of ways — including through charging electric vehicles, bikes and cellphones, serving as a sort of WiFi hotspot and advertising space and even providing light and shelter.

“I came to SkyHook out of the realization that we face a big problem with climate change and SkyHook is a company formed to solve a small part of that big problem by delivering clean, solar energy to street corners of places even far off the grid where it’s difficult to distribute power,” Delano said.

“We’ve tried to come up with a concept of a solar generator that can provide clean power and be delivered overnight or very quickly to a location without trenching or extensive permitting so that power can be delivered where it’s needed. And we want that station to be unique and beautiful, to be aesthetically pleasing.”

During a recent Zoom call with the Snowmass Sun, Delano, Morgan Fixel, who oversees strategy and partnerships for SkyHook , and Jill Steindler, who oversees Roaring Fork Valley partnerships, talked about what the SkyHook Solar stations can do and how prototypes are being deployed and utilized in the valley and beyond.

The SkyHook officials said right now there is a small station at Meat and Cheese in Aspen that powers the restaurant’s outdoor lighting in the evenings, helps charge the iPads servers use to take orders and is available for customers to charge their phones; a station at the Aspen Community School that allows a teacher to charge his electric vehicle, making his commute from home to work and back again easier to manage; a station at the Third Street Center in Carbondale that can be used for electric vehicle charging, iPhone charging, lighting and some advertising, including signage for upcoming events; and the station with electric vehicle charging capabilities in Snowmass Town Park, with more stations or “irons in the fire” planned in the valley area in the near future.

“We just really want to make it very accessible for someone to have access to power that happens to be renewable,” Fixel said, noting that some of SkyHook’s stations were utilized at the X Games in January and also have been deployed in Denver.

While there aren’t any super concrete numbers on how much energy the Snowmass station is producing as of mid-October, Fixel and Delano said SkyHook has seen success with its other stations, specifically in their ability to be easily transported and provide communities with a resilient power option if the grid energy infrastructure were to fail.

“Sky Hook stations in a network can serve as a backup power source when the grid goes down,” Delano said. “Right now the station at Snowmass Town Park is not a network but if the grid went down there would be power and light at that particular location in addition to the everyday EV charging.”

Looking forward, Delano, Fixel and Steindler said SkyHook hopes to continue partnering with the town of Snowmass Village and other area organizations, bringing more resilient, renewable energy to locals and to people outside of the Roaring Fork Valley.

“This is a company that was truly born out of this valley so we’re excited to be able to test and to pilot and to deploy with whoever is interested,” Fixel said.

Delano agreed. “We’d like to see SkyHook stations up and down the Roaring Fork Valley and way beyond,” he said.

mvincent@aspentimes.com


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