Trail Ridge Store in Rocky Mountain National Park goes green with solar panels
Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Store is getting a new look in an effort to make the building more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The improvements at the Trail Ridge Store, which is located near the top of Trail Ridge Road, include a roof replacement, installation of solar panels and new windows and shutters. The property of the Trail Ridge Store is currently managed by Xanterra, a global travel company, that hopes to help the store meet its mission of “legendary hospitality with a softer footprint.”
“We’re just trying to do anything and everything in our power to make the store have a softer footprint,” said Nancy Strong, general manager at the Trail Ridge Store. “We just feel these are improvements for all of our guests as well as the park.”
Strong said the goal of installing the solar panels is to run the Trail Ridge Store entirely on solar power instead of using the generator currently in place. The installation of the windows and shutters will help insulate the store and help protect it from wind and snow during the months the store is closed.
“We started putting up shutters that will withstand the wind and snow, and it also gives us another thermal quality on the building,” Strong said. “And the way it works up at Trail Ridge is everything has to be run by generator, so obviously that’s not a cost-effective way to run the electricity up at the store.”
The goal is to use the solar panels, instead of the generator, as much as possible to actually run the store, she said.
The solar panels are expected to be up and running by the end of August. Strong said the solar panels are not only a more cost-effective and eco-friendly option, but are also more reliable than a generator.
“… Because we were solely relying on generator power from the park service, we would have outages in the store,” she explained. “This will enable us to not have that. We would like to get off the park service generator completely. It’s loud, it pollutes into the system and it has to be run with diesel fuel, and for the park’s economy I think it would be better to get off the generator.”
According to Strong, the generator provides 125 kilowatt hours per day. The new solar system is expected to provide 55 kilowatt hours across 153 panels and includes a battery for 90 kilowatt hours. During the day, the store will be powered directly by the solar panels and energy stored in the battery, while at night the store will be reliant on only the battery stored energy. The total amount of energy for the month of September is expected to be slightly over 7,200 kilowatts.
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