Solar will help power Vail Mountain School |

Solar will help power Vail Mountain School

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS VMS Solar Panels DT 9-9-10

VAIL, Colorado – Vail Mountain School is about to become the first school in the valley with solar panels.

Workers with Conundrum Technologies in Edwards are installing the panels Monday on the roof.

The 20 solar panels will provide about 10 percent of the East Vail school’s electricity, Conundrum’s CEO Jason Perez said.

Solar panels are a growing trend at area schools. The new Walking Mountains science school campus in Avon will have solar panels on two buildings. Conundrum Technologies plans to install the 136 solar panels in January.

With the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the nation is perhaps more focused than ever on renewable energy.

“It’s not something that’s just talked about in Berkeley, California,” Perez said.

In the past, money had been a hurdle preventing Vail Mountain School from installing solar panels.

Recently, though, the school received grants to cover a good portion of the cost.

“In light of the school’s efforts to be green and more environmentally conscious, this is a huge step,” school spokeswoman Emily Tamberino said.

The solar system costs about $30,000, Perez said. Eagle County awarded the school a $5,000 ECO grant, Holy Cross Energy pitched in a $7,500 rebate and the Governor’s Energy Office contributed $5,000. An anonymous donor covered the remaining costs, Tamberino said.

In the long run, the system should actually save the school money.

Perez said the solar panels will save the school about $46,000 in electricity bills over 20 years. That works out to about $2,300 per year. The school pays about $5,742 per month on average for electricity.

For students, the panels bring some of their lessons to life. Environmental science teacher Gabrielle Scherzer plans to teach a unit this year on renewable energy. When she spotted workers installing the racks for the solar panels this week, she arranged to have someone from the company speak to her students.

“How wonderful is it for students to learn about alternative sources of energy as they’re being installed on their very own school?” she said.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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