Sporting a bedazzled, furry Viking hat with pointy white horns, Breckenridge Mayor John Warner welcomed the community on Tuesday to the grand opening of the Ullr solar array.
Ullr, the Norse god of snow, and Sól, the god of sun, lend their names to the two solar arrays that individuals and businesses have bought into to offset energy costs. Both arrays were up and running at the grand opening.
“This is another step to make Breckenridge a renewable energy leader,” Warner said.
Each solar garden has a total of 500 available kilowatts, and the average Colorado house can go off the grid — cover the total cost of electricity with solar power — using between six to seven kilowatt hours.
The Ullr array opened four months after breaking ground in May. People who had invested in panels picked up green and white yard signs and window decals proclaiming their new clean energy source. The solar gardens are run by the Colorado company Clean Energy Collective, a private-sector business responsible for the construction.
Every 235-watt panel cost $870 and both arrays are slightly oversold. Residents and businesses will initially receive a 10-cent per watt rebate. The Sól array is located on the Stilson property at 720 Wellington Road.
Town Councilman Mike Dudick’s company, Breckenridge Grand Vacations, is one of the largest company investors, having purchased 240 kilowatts — almost a $1 million dollar investment.
Jen Schenk, High Country Conservation Center executive director, said she was excited to see a community-based project for solar power.
“Everyone can’t just put solar on their rooftops,” she said. “So it’s great to see this here.”
Warner said the town could save an estimated $6.6 million dollars over the next 20 years with the solar investments.
Tom Sweeney, CEC chief operating officer, said the project wouldn’t be happening without the Breckenridge community’s support.
“I’d like to thank the solar subscribers who made this possible,” he said.
Chad Roach, CEC project manager, led a tour of the solar array, explaining how fixed panels at a 35-degree angle work best under the Colorado sun. The 16 rows of panels will be regularly checked for maintenance and cleaning, and soon people will be able remotely see how much energy their individual panels are producing.
On Aug. 27, the Breckenridge Town Council readopted a sales tax ordinance that included new exemptions for solar power.
“This is an important day in Breckenridge history,” Warner said.