The Cortez Sanitation District has approved the installation of solar panels at its sewer lift stations to save on energy costs.
During a special meeting on March 27, the district’s board of directors approved a power lease agreement with Durango-based company Shaw Solar to install the solar panels this summer. The board has been discussing a plan to increase its solar power since January in order to cut costs and make the district more environmentally friendly. District Manager Jan Nelson said the panels will save the district 5 percent per month on electricity costs.
According to the agreement, Shaw will install the solar panels at no cost to the district, and will charge a monthly fee that is 5 percent lower than Cortez’s current electric bill for the lift stations. Nelson said the agreement takes possible future cost increases into account and requires the district’s fee to stay under budget.
“We are either going to break even or be 5 percent under at all times,” she said.
She said she isn’t sure yet when the panels will be installed, but Director Jim Candelaria said the goal is to have them operational by the end of July.
The Sanitation District decided to contract with Shaw after Nelson met with Cortez City Manager Shane Hale and received a good report about his experiences with the company. The city has leased solar panels from Shaw to provide power to the Recreation Center and City Hall.
Candelaria said he believes switching to more solar power would be good for everyone in the district.
“It’s environmentally friendly – it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing.”
The city of Cortez has made several steps over the past few years toward using more alternative energy.
In addition to the solar panels on the new City Hall and the Recreation Center, the city recently discussed the possibility of installing charging stations for electric cars. Nelson also said that during her conversation with Hale, he said the city may purchase more solar panels in the future.