County celebrates solar power projectsSep 27, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer
Joined by city officials and local legislators, Community Entry Services on Wednesday celebrated the opening of its 353-panel solar project in Riverton that is expected to save the nonprofit $400,000 in utility costs over the solar panels' lifespan.
The panels that cover CES's rooftop will provide up to 70 percent of CES's energy needs.
CES board chairman Hal Herron said he hopes to eventually have solar panels installed at CES's facilities in Lander and Jackson, too. The reduction in utility costs, he said, will help ease increasing cost burdens for CES -- a challenge he said is faced by all companies that serve developmentally disabled people.
CES CEO Shawn Griffin said the utility savings will allow the nonprofit to "redirect the savings to providing direct services to the population in which we serve."
Herron said the panels will also provide learning opportunities to local students, as schools will be invited to the facility to see the solar array and learn how the system works.
The solar panels were installed largely with the help of $250,000 from Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky program.
The project also was funded by a $30,000 grant from First Interstate Bank and contributions from Ron and Linda Vosika.
Wyoming Senate President Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said the project demonstrates both the role of renewables in meeting Wyoming's future energy needs, as well as the supportive role local donors play in Riverton.
"Riverton has always been one of the leaders in community involvement," Bebout said. "It's so fun to come to some of these projects where we're celebrating something positive."
The installation in Riverton is one of 128 solar projects Rocky Mountain has helped fund over the last decade. At 79.2 kilowatts, the solar array at CES is also the largest Blue Sky project that's been installed in Wyoming.
Rocky Mountain Power president and CEO Cindy Crane flew to Riverton on Wednesday to join the local community for the ribbon-cutting event at CES.
She said the carbon footprint impact of her company's Blue Sky program has so far been equivalent to taking 165,000 cars off the road.
"Being environmental stewards ... is at the heart of our business," she said.
Rocky Mountain Power funded two other projects this year: a 30-kilowatt array at Rock Springs's airport and a 15-kilowatt array atop The Nature Conservancy's headquarters in Lander.
The Nature Conservancy's state director Milward Simpson said the installation will help the group meet its goal to work "diligently to keep administrative costs to a minimum and seek to make use of every dollar donated, with careful attention to effectiveness and efficiency."
The solar panels were installed by Lander-based Creative Energies, and co-founder Scott Kane said the project was a joy for his crew.
"Our crew had a great time working on the project and getting to know the (CES) staff and clients," he said. "They made a lot of new friends."