FEBRUARY 4, 2019 BY 

Looking ahead to a possible bond election in 2019, Steamboat Springs School District (SSSD) Board of Education is considering options for new schools and renovations at their meeting on February 11.

SSSD is one of the top 10 energy consumers in Routt County. Installing renewable energy on schools will reduce our community’s greenhouse gas emissions, inspire the next generation to care for our climate, and ensure a more sustainable financial future for SSSD.  Sign YVSC’s letter in support of renewables for new schools.

Below are the benefits of renewable energy for SSSD:
  1. The SSSD Strategic Plan includes the belief, “The earth and its resources have value, and we are its stewards.” Renewable energy along with energy efficient construction supports being a good steward of both environmental and taxpayer resources.
  2. A solar array would save SSSD on electricity costs for at least 30 years of significant solar panel production. Source, EnergySage
  3. By November 2017, solar was installed at 5,489 schools across the U.S. representing about 5% of all K-12 schools and 4 million students. U.S. school solar capacity almost doubled from 2014 to 2017. Source, A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools by The Solar Foundation, Generation 180, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
  4. At last count, 104 schools in Colorado are using solar power, such as schools in Antonito, Arvada, Basalt, Boulder, Brighton, Broomfield, Brush, Canon City, Carbondale, Centennial, Colorado Springs, Cortez, Denver, Evergreen, Fairplay, Federal Heights, Frisco, Glenwood Springs, Golden, Greeley, Jamestown, Lafayette, Lakewood, Littleton, Louisville, Nederland, Northglenn, Superior, Thornton, Westminster and Wheatridge.
  5. The recent solar install at Riverview Elementary in south Glenwood Springs is estimated to have a simple payback on investment of 11.5 years to provide net zero electricity (no net electricity costs across a year). This does not count grants received that cut the payback to seven years. The 340-kilowatt solar array is located on 0.8 acres of hillside land near the school. Roaring Fork High School, in the same district, is also net zero with solar energy. Source, Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) in Garfield County
  6. The net zero system for the Glenwood Springs school cost $600,000 without any grants (the cost was $350,000 to the school district with grants). A similar system would represent only 1.2% of the estimated $50 million to build a new school in Steamboat Springs. In other words, a small investment with a big pay-off.
  7. Numerous funding options and/or grants may be available to help offset renewable energy install costs.
  8. A fall 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 89% of U.S. adults favor expanding use of solar power.
  9. Solar is a growing and well-accepted technology across the U.S. It represented 33% of new U.S. electricity generating capacity additions in 2017 and 30% in the first three quarters of 2018. Source, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  10. The cost of installing solar in schools has decreased more than 60% in the last seven years and solar prices are now at a historic low, despite tariffs. Source, The Solar Foundation, Generation 180, SEIA, U.S. Solar Market Insight, December 2018, Wood Mackenzie/SEIA
  11. Electricity costs at individual SSSD elementary schools ranged from $33,000 to $58,000 per year in 2016 to 2018. Source, Steamboat Springs School District

“The Roaring Fork School District is making big commitments to renewable energy and high performing buildings, as they have seen the financial savings that it can bring. They also use the systems as teaching elements for the schools–on energy independence/diversity, long-term costs, climate impacts, etc.” Shelley Kaup, former Energy Efficiency Consultant & Program Manager at CLEER

How you can take action:
  1. Sign our letter to the Board of Education by February 11.
  2. Email Board of Education members on your own.
  3. Attend the Board of Education meeting on February 11. The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 124 10th StreetSteamboat Springs, CO 80487.