McKinstry and Colorado partners collaborate on 13 solar projects for local government


Recently, the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden, Colorado, and McKinstry, a national construction and energy services firm, celebrated the completion of 13 new solar arrays constructed for eight local government agencies throughout the region. This extraordinary project includes a regional partnership with the City of Steamboat Springs, Routt County, Moffat County, City of Craig, Moffat County School District, Town of Yampa, Town of Oak Creek, and Town of Hayden to improve energy independence and promote resiliency across the region. The Colorado Energy Office and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) provided critical support to the project partners.

McKinstry was contracted by the Northwest Colorado regional partners in March 2020 to conduct a feasibility study for solar and resiliency opportunities across 15 different sites throughout Routt County and Moffat County. The goal of the study was to investigate opportunities to deploy ground- and roof-mounted solar arrays, and determine the potential of the solar and other resiliency improvements to help the partners accomplish the following goals:

  • Reduce energy and utility costs
  • Improve energy reliability
  • Increase resiliency across sites
  • Offset grid energy usage at each site
  • Progress renewable energy goals of state

In January 2021, the Northwest Regional Partners announced that the DOLA Energy Impact Fund would provide them with $2.1 million in grant funding to support the region’s use of renewable energy. Each partner received a share of the grant to buy its individual project payback down to 11 years. McKinstry engineered a series of solar arrays and resiliency solutions designed to meet each of the regional partners’ unique priorities. The projects are now being constructed through an Energy Savings Performance Contract (EPC) with each partner.

“McKinstry is excited for the opportunity to partner with each of the Northwest Colorado regional partners to identify their energy needs and opportunities, leveraging available financing mechanisms like the Energy Performance Contracting program to create financially responsible opportunities to help reach their sustainability goals,” said Leslie Larocque, McKinstry Vice President of Energy and Technical Services – Mountain Region. “Our promise to clients is to design energy projects that deliver immediate value, saving energy and reducing operating costs.”

Solar arrays are installed at 13 local government facilities in the cities and towns of Craig, Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa. Eight of the projects are ground-mounted, while the remaining five are rooftop systems.

“This is an enormous grant for Northwest Colorado and shows the commitment from a number of organizations to be fiscally efficient and also in moving toward renewable energy in support of Colorado’s goal of being 100% renewable energy by 2040,” said Winnie DelliQuadri, Special Projects / Intergovernmental Services Manager for the City of Steamboat Springs. 

Individual projects range from $63,500 to nearly $900,000 and involve DC and AC electrical work, minor boring for ground mount foundations, trenching for AC conduit, and minor site grading. Permanent fences will be installed when necessary. McKinstry began the construction process this spring and the projects are anticipated to be complete within 12 months. Other measures within the project include back-up generation and lighting improvements across some of the sites.

“The Town of Yampa is proud to be a part of the solar project and is looking forward to seeing the amazing benefits the solar panels will provide to our community” noted Yampa Town Clerk Sheila Symons.

“The Colorado Department of Local Affairs is pleased to provide these grants to so many impactful solar and resiliency projects across Northwest Colorado,” said Greg Winkler, DOLA Regional Manager. “These projects will reduce our communities’ reliance on fossil fuels, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and lower energy costs in these municipalities.”

“This critical infrastructure project will significantly reduce utility costs and greatly increase the operational resiliency of the Yampa Valley Regional Airport” said Kevin Booth, Airport Director.

The DOLA Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund (EIAF) program was created to assist political subdivisions that are socially and/or economically impacted by the development, processing, or energy conversion of minerals and mineral fuels.

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