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Lottery in Glenwood Springs awards solar rebates

Pete Fowler
pfowler@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Mayor Bruce Christensen hopes Wednesday’s lottery for rebates on solar panels will kick off many years of getting Glenwood Springs to be more energy conscious.

“I certainly hope this is the first step of many years of getting Glenwood to become a greener community,” he said.

Three commercial applicants and five residential applicants stand to win $90,000 in rebates through the Glenwood Springs Electric Department for installing solar panels. The Governor’s Energy Office and the City of Glenwood Springs each contributed $45,000. The rebate winners were picked by spinning a cage full of lottery balls.



“We’re going to put a five-kilowatt system on the roof of our building, which will hopefully be just the beginning,” said Dan Richardson, of the Schmueser, Gordon, and Meyer engineering firm, which was the first commercial applicant to win the rebate.

Heather McGregor, solar rebates program manager for Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative (G-NECI), said the rebate program is intended to be a pilot project to gauge interest. There’s currently only about eight solar photovoltaic systems operating among the Glenwood Springs Electric Department’s 5,800 customers.



“When we were first awarded this grant we weren’t sure we’d get enough interest to use all the money,” McGregor said.

Around twice the number of people eventually applied for rebates than there was money for.

Sandy and Jennifer Lowell, winners of a residential rebate, plan to install a four-kilowatt system on their West Glenwood home with a six-kilowatt inverter so they can expand to six kilowatts at a later date. Sandy Lowell figures that would be enough to produce all their electricity.



“I’ve been looking at this for years, and I needed that extra $3 per watt to make it anywhere near economically feasible,” he said.

He said because it’s relatively small, the city electric department was not forced to comply with legislation requiring large energy providers to have 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. That meant larger electric providers were offering rebates around $3 per watt when Glenwood Springs was not, he said.

Lowell said he’ll be getting a $9,000 rebate through the city, $6,000 from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE), plus a 30 percent federal tax credit on the investment. He estimates although that will return around $25,000 of the $32,000 investment, it will still take about 15 years for energy savings from the solar panels to pay off the remainder.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “That’s why we’re doing it, but a 15-year break even is marginal. That means I have to live 15 more years. That means I have to live in my house 15 more years.”

The commercial rebate applicants can get up to a $15,000 rebate for a five-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. The residential applicants can get up to a $9,000 rebate for a three-kilowatt solar photovoltaic. The rebate applicants must build their photovoltaic systems by Feb. 25 to win the rebates. Other applicants have been placed on a waiting list in case the winners’ projects fall through.

City Councilor Shelley Kaup said at least a few city councilors hope more rebates can be offered in the future. City manager Jeff Hecksel said, “I would say there’s a pretty good potential for that.” But he added it probably wouldn’t be possible until the next fiscal year.

Christensen thanked McGregor and Alice Laird for getting the rebate program organized. McGregor and Laird both work for Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER).

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

pfowler@postindependent.com


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