SOLAR ON THE COYOTE MOUNTAIN LODGE
Independent Power Systems (IPS) recently completed two large commercial solar power systems at the Discovery Lodge (93 kW) and The Coyote Mountain Lodge (75 kW) in Estes Park, Colorado, installing nearly 400 high-efficiency SunPower solar panels. The 170 solar panels at The Coyote Mountain Lodge are expected to last more than 40 years, producing an estimated 120,755 kWh of clean, renewable energy annually for the hotel.
“What surprised me most about solar is the longevity of the panels,” said Eric Neeb, one of the owners of the Discovery and Coyote Mountain lodges. “I would have thought solar panels would have had a lifespan of ten, fifteen, or twenty years…the SunPower panels we have at the lodges have a 40 year projected lifespan! From the numbers we ran—with a net of the cost savings and the tax credits and depreciation—our payback on the system is only around six years—on 40 years panels! So we have 34 years of added cost savings for the future, and we’re able to really save money and save thousands and thousands of tons of CO2 emissions over the life of the panels.”
Behind its sister property, the Discovery Lodge, The Coyote Mountain Lodge is now home to the largest commercial solar power system in Estes Park, followed by another IPS-Installed 57.72 kW off-grid solar array on the roof of the Trail Ridge Store in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. To date, the Discovery and Coyote Mountain solar systems are the first and largest of their kind in the local hotel industry. Cumulatively, the solar panels are estimated to save more than 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions over their lifespan.
“I see our systems impacting the community by allowing us to take a leadership role in the hotel environment in Estes Park,” said Neeb. “In Estes, there are over a hundred hotels and small motels and bed & breakfasts in the community. To my knowledge, we are the first two such properties to go solar in the valley—and we’ve already had other hotels contact us and ask ‘hey, what are the numbers,’ ‘how did you do it,’ ‘why did you do it,’ and really, if we can take the lead in being environmentally conscious and reducing our environmental footprint in the area, I think that’s just a tremendous honor and wonderful role to be in.”
Purchased by owners Leslie and Eric in 2012, The Coyote Mountain Lodge has 48 rooms, including a beautiful two bedroom second story condo, making it the perfect, go-to spot for quick getaways to the gorgeous Rockies.
“These systems made a lot of sense for Leslie and Eric and the lodges,” said Andrew Finanger, Solar Consultant at IPS. “I had originally met with them to talk about solar for their home, but it turns out both hotel properties were ideal for solar thanks to great roofs and plenty of southern exposure. The utility rates are also much higher in Estes Park, which made all the difference in the world and allowed the lodges to see such incredible returns. It’s great to start seeing solar getting more prominence in such a popular tourist town.”
“We always want to see what we can do to improve the properties,” added Neeb. “It’s a never-ending process. And part of that is asking ‘how can we be environmental stewards?’ We’re here in this tremendously diverse and rich environment that guests travel miles and thousands of miles from all over the world to come and see. And what do we do to contribute to that? How do we make it sustainable? Not just for our generation, but for future generations to come? This was a huge investment, but we want to make our accommodations sustainable for future generations. I want to give back to the environment that supports us.”
According to Neeb, the systems will together offset about three-quarters of the lodges’ energy usage annualized.
Learn more about The Coyote Mountain Lodge, and don’t forget to check out this pioneering system and the friendly accommodations next time you are in Estes Park!
"This was a huge investment, but we want to make our accommodations sustainable for future generations. I want to give back to the environment that supports us."
OWNER, COYOTE MOUNTAIN LODGE