Laramie City Council approved a grant application that would see solar panels installed on both the Community Recreation Center and the Laramie Ice and Events Center.
The application requests $120,000 from the Rocky Mountain Power through its Blue Sky Grant program.
Rocky Mountain Power provides these grants to non-residential users for the construction of renewable projects. The city’s $120,000 grant request will be matched by $30,000 in city funds for a total project cost of $150,000. That amount would purchase two solar panels.
Assistant City Manager Todd Feezer said the Laramie Community Recreation Center and the ice and events center were chosen based on an analysis conducted by city staff to determine where the solar panels would provide the most benefit.
“We looked at every city facility’s utility bills, and then after that we did an evaluation based on which ones have the most consumption during daylight hours that would be able to use the energy created by the solar panels,” Feezer said. “We looked at facilities that had the best potential return on the investment by decreasing the amount of electrical use and consuming the electricity that we generate.”
Feezer said another consideration was which locations would provide ease of construction and access to the electricity meter.
The council’s approval of the application supports earlier resolutions aiming to reduce carbon emissions from municipal government facilities, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
“By participating in the Blue Sky grant, we will actually get to claim these two facilities as carbon neutral, and that will definitely help as we moved towards that goal, if we receive the grant,” Feezer said.
He added the city is looking at other projects such as incorporating electric vehicles and using solar panels in the construction of new city facilities.
“We are trying to make every consideration that we can as new facilities come on,” Feezer said. “Hopefully we can include solar as a part of the construction of new facilities to help get us to where we start to attain the council’s goal of carbon neutrality, and also start doing things a little better for our community and our environment.”
According to the resolution, the city estimates the project will pay for itself in about eight years.
“We are extremely excited about this project,” Feezer said. “It’s a big step for the municipality to take this on, but if we do this and do this right, and it is successful, I think our citizens can expect to see more implementation as we go through.”