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Rec center will be powered by the sun

Gregory Conroy
Carbondale Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado

CARBONDALE ” Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there will be sun.

The proposed photovoltaic system to be installed on the roof of Carbondale’s new Community Recreation Center was given the green light of approval by the town’s Board of Trustees.

Lauren Martindale, energy program manager for the town, gave a presentation of the latest cost estimates, as well as what she learned from state officials about the town’s responsibility for property taxes on the system.

After the data was presented, trustees made the decision to enter into the seven-year contract with Carbondale-based Sol Energy, LLC.

The motion passed 6-0, with Trustee John Foulkrod opting to abstain.

Foulkrod said he was concerned about locking future boards into the deal, and also had a hard time understanding the long-range financial impact to the town.

“I just see numbers; I understand what they are, I just don’t understand what they mean,” he said. “I’m not going to blind-faith vote on it.”

Though the property tax issue has proven to be something of a nuisance in getting such projects off the ground, Martindale pointed out that it is an issue that is losing its stability as a result of recent trends in state legislation.

Because the system would be privately owned until and if the town takes the buyout option in eight years, the town would pay about $7,200 in property taxes over those seven years, according to the estimates she presented.

“It’s likely we’ll see the property tax lessen, or go away in the next three years,” Martindale pointed out, citing California, which already has dismissed its property taxes for solar systems.

It was also determined that over the seven years the town would be contracted into the agreement with Sol Energy, assuming a 3 percent annual increase in electricity costs and net-metered utility bills, and including the buyout, the town can expect to pay about $30,253 total.

After eight years, the town would have the option to buy the system for an estimated $123,000 ” a fraction of the system’s initial cost.

The town is hoping to achieve LEED “Gold” status for the recreation center building, which was designed with a variety of energy efficient measures in mind.


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