Snowmass Village council shines light on ‘20 by 20’ goal, OK’s nearly $1M for solar project |

Snowmass Village council shines light on ‘20 by 20’ goal, OK’s nearly $1M for solar project

Solar panels
Aspen Times file photo

After a decade in the making, Snowmass Village Town Council approved nearly $1 million Monday night to install solar power at four of the town’s facilities.

And with a few more grants and rebates lined up, the town likely won’t need all of that allocation. The council unanimously approved moving forward and spending $992,886 from the Community Enhancement Funds for the project.

In Snowmass’ sustainability plan, which was adopted in 2009 and updated in 2015, the town committed to reduce its carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020.

Currently, the town has secured $360,000 in grants and rebates toward the solar project, Assistant City Manager Travis Elliott told the council. That money will help cut off nearly six years on the total payback.

“To Travis’ credit, we are going from about $900,000 to $600,000 for the town to contribute,” City Manager Clint Kinney told the council.

The total project will reduce total community-wide emissions by 0.3% and contribute 6.3% of the remaining reductions necessary to achieve the town’s emissions “20 by 20” goal, according to a memo from the town’s Financial Advisory Board.

The project will put solar panels on Town Hall, the public works building, Town Park Station and the recreation center by the end of the year. The Mountain View II housing complex was removed from the project.

After the request for proposals was put out in early March, a committee selected Carbondale-based Sunsense Solar from the four bids it received. Sunsense’s bid came in at $974,085. The goal is for construction to start this summer, Elliott said.

The fifth project is the installation of a hydro-turbine in an existing vault across Brush Creek Road from Town Hall to generate electricity. It’s budgeted for $96,000 and should be installed this year, Elliott said.

There are a few changes from the previous plans, and one of the adjustments is trying to lessen the number of pole/ground panels and put more on top of buildings.

All the panels previously planned as pole-mounted at the rec center will instead be mounted on top of the main building and the gym. The ones on the main building will replace the current thermal panels. That will save money, Elliott said, because the brackets can be reused.

“The bulk of that project will be on the roof of the gym,” Elliott said.

He said the thinking is to lessen the number of ground mounts and go to roof-top mounts. They are looking at options to move the ground mounts planned near the public works building to its roof.

One grant Elliott secured is for $200,000 from the state’s Department of Local Affairs. Another grant is from the Roaring Fork Valley’s Community Office for Resource Efficiency for $110,000.

“These projects set an example for residents, businesses and visitors that the town is taking action,” CORE executive director Mona Newton wrote to Snowmass council.

The 25-year net present value has increased from a negative $40,000 to a positive $220,000, which is mainly because of grants and rebates town staff have secured in the past few weeks, according to an updated cost-benefit analysis. The total payback time has been reduced from 22 years to about 16 years, Elliott told the council.

Councilman Bob Sirkus was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

Councilman Bill Madsen said he would like the town to continue to consider the micro-hydro turbines and “look for more places we can do this.”

“This is not the end. It just gets it going,” McKinney said, “and we can look for other areas to explore in the future.”


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