Eagle to undertake two major energy-saving projects as it pursues goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 | VailDaily.com

Eagle to undertake two major energy-saving projects as it pursues goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030

Major solar photovoltaic installment and water meter testing and replacement projects are on the horizon

Eagle is planning a major solar photovoltaic installment at the town’s largest energy consumer, the wastewater treatment plant, as part of its efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
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Yearout Energy presented its 60% update to the Eagle Town Council on Tuesday as the New Mexico-based company and the town prepare to engage in two major energy-saving projects. 

Town Council members voted to unanimously approve an agreement in February 2022 to have Yearout Energy produce a comprehensive “investment grade audit” for the town, and the company has been evaluating Eagle’s energy efficiency and planning avenues for improvement. 

Eagle announced its lofty net-zero carbon emissions goal on July 19, 2021. Since the goal’s establishment, the hire of Yearout Energy’s services has been one of the largest investments the town has made in its strides toward net-zero carbon emissions. 

According to the Yearout Energy website, the company is design-build focused “providing hands-on, integrated solutions that improve the build-environment” of their employing entity. Most notably, the energy consumption evaluation service assists government institutions across the southwest “to help reduce resource consumption, lower utility and maintenance costs and improve operational efficiency and comfort across facilities.”

Recognizing the role governments of any size play in reducing energy consumption, Yearout Energy develops energy efficiency audits and helps implement systems that will boost efficiency. 

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In evaluating Eagle’s efficiency and goals, the company began planning two major projects: a major solar photovoltaic installment at the town’s largest energy consumer, the wastewater treatment plant, as well as water meter testing and replacements town-wide. 

At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Yearout Energy Business Development Manager Paul Engle outlined other project elements and discussed funding. Engle is a certified energy manager at the Association of Energy Engineers. Additionally, he holds membership in the Colorado Energy Efficiency Business Coalition, the Colorado Energy Services Coalition, the Special District Association, and the Colorado Municipal League.

“The solar project is looking to chase some Department of Local Affairs funds, so we’re going to have to wait on the approval,” Engle said. “So then, we’d be looking at potential project implementation in quarter four (of 2023) and the performance period happening right thereafter.”

Engle said there is around $5 million available for funding through the Department of Local Affairs funds. Now, project planners are shooting for a potential $750,000 grant request through the department with a 15-to-16-year payback of the funds.

“The (solar) project has an estimated sticker price for around $3 million right now,” Engle said. 

While solar panels typically last around 10 to 12 years — eventually needing replacement — Engle said Eagle’s solar project will utilize tier-one solar products that come with a 25-year warranty. He said that when towns erect assets such as the solar array project, they can expect its lifespan to be around 30 to 35 years. With the warranty extending the life of the project, Engle said that the solar project should be paid off at about half its lifespan. 

Additionally, Eagle can take advantage of the federal investment tax credit that exists for renewable projects through the Inflation Reduction Act that was passed in 2022.

“You submit all your receipts, all of your bills for it and then you are given a 30% payment for the total project cost, which you’ll receive typically about six to nine months after the project has been completed,” Engle said. 

The Yearout Energy representative said that should project managers apply for Department of Local Affairs funds in the April cycle, they wouldn’t expect to be granted an award until July. Engle said it’s likely that the town would not be under contracts for Department of Local Affairs funds until October or November on that timeline. 

“What we can do, however, is move forward with the necessary design associated with that solar project — we just can’t construct anything, “Engle said. “So, that’s something we can do in the interim so we’re not just sitting on our hands more or less.”

Engle also noted that with the solar project’s lifespan, planners must consider the growing consumer base along with Eagle’s growing population. 

“We’re going to consume a lot more electricity in the future than we do currently,” Engle said.

Engle also said planners will engage a third party for independent testing of current water meters throughout Eagle. The $19,000 study will pull water meters and install new meters. Samples of Eagle water meters will be sent to an independent lab to determine their efficiency. 

Once results are sent back from the independent testing, Yearout Energy and the town can determine the appropriate savings plan for the water meter project. 

Engle said the improvement of Eagle’s water meter systems will be impactful in the long run, as some faults in the current system are already fuzzily apparent without the testing service. With the Eagle meters’ current mechanical technology, some parts wear down and some water isn’t measured, with customers not being billed accurately.

To fund the water conservation initiatives, the town of Eagle and Yearout Energy plan on applying for a grant from the Bureau of Reclamation. 

Newer technology would better represent the town’s goals of conservation-mindedness by improving water efficiency, water conservation, and ultimately, energy use. 

Engle said he and other project planners expect these implementations to make great strides in Eagle’s net-zero goal trajectory. 

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