Yampa Valley cuts ribbon on major solar project

Stakeholders from across the Yampa Valley gather at Yampa Valley Regional Airport to cut a ceremonial ribbon commemorating the opening of 13 solar projects across Moffat and Routt counties.
Eliza Noe / Craig Press

Stakeholders and leaders from across the Yampa River Valley gathered at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden to celebrate the unveiling of a multi-million-dollar solar project that’s brought panels to 13 different locations across Moffat and Routt counties.

Airport director Kevin Booth said that solar panels at the airport are going to have a huge impact on the airport’s resilience — especially when it comes to power outages during the busy winter months. From a business standpoint, it was a great decision, Booth said.

“There are times when we lose power, and it’s not a happy time,” Booth said. “Especially when it’s December, or January, February or March — our four busiest months. This is critical mass when that happens, especially if there’s 1,000 passengers in the terminal, or six airplanes parked out there. We did not have backup generation, so we’re working again with McKinstry to determine how we could fill that gap.”

McKinstry, a national construction and energy services firm, has played a large role in providing the solar arrays now installed at 13 local government facilities, including buildings in Craig, Yampa, Oak Creek, Hayden and Steamboat Springs. With a $2.1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, communities in both counties worked with McKinstry and the Yampa Valley Electric Association to complete the arrays.

Peter Brixius, city manager for the city of Craig, said that, along with McKinstry, the partnership among the Yampa Valley communities is what pushed the project to its completion. Talks began in late 2018 and early 2019. Craig received several of the 13 projects, including solar arrays at Moffat County High School, the public safety center and the water treatment plant. The power bill at the Moffat County Public Safety Center will be cut by half as a result of the solar arrays.

“These projects are critical,” Brixius said.

He added that there’s another major solar project on the books that will launch at the end of 2022. Some features of it will be a 2-megawatt project that will benefit a similar regional partnership, and an additional 1.9-megawatt project.

Communities who are receiving arrays will pitch in matching funds over the next 10 years, totalling another $3.1 million between the communities.

Gov. Jared Polis joined the ceremony remotely and commended the northwest Colorado communities in their collaboration on the project.

“This project shows how us local governments in the region can combine efforts to achieve greater scale, greater efficiency and a common goal,” Polis said Friday.

Thirteen solar projects across the Moffat and Routt

Steamboat Wastewater Treatment Plant, 418 KW

Craig Wastewater Treatment Plant, 271 KW

Yampa Valley Regional Airport, 250 KW

Moffat County High School, 243 KW

Craig Water Treatment Plant, 209 KW

Hayden Center, 209 KW

Hayden Wastewater Treatment Plant, 209 KW

Moffat County Safety Center, 209 KW

Sleeping Giant School, 150 KW

Steamboat Transit Operations Center, 41 KW

Hayden Police Station, 36 KW

Oak Creek Town Hall, 20 KW

Yampa Emergency Services Building, 12 KW

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