Independent Power recently completed two large commercial solar power systems at the Discovery Lodge (93 kW) and Coyote Mountain Lodge (75 kW) in Estes Park, Colorado, installing nearly 400 high-efficiency SunPower solar panels. The 211 solar panels at the Discovery Lodge are expected to last more than 40 years, producing an estimated 146,026 kWh of clean, renewable energy annually for the hotel.
“We started looking at solar about a year ago when we had IPS at our house to do a similar analysis,” said Eric Neeb, co-owner of the Discovery and Coyote Mountain lodges. “During that time, we talked about the rooflines and southern exposure of both our hotel properties, and it facilitated a conversation of what we can do. It really worked out exceptionally well. The rooflines here provide tremendous exposure to the sun. And between the efficiency of the panels and government rebates and credits, it was just a very economical way to create a sustainable future for us, our guests, and the people who come to Estes to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.”
The Discovery Lodge is now home to the largest commercial solar power system in Estes Park, followed by its sister property The Coyote Mountain Lodge and 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 properties to go solar in the valley—and we’ve already had 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.”
“What’s present for me as I think about solar is environmental stewardship and financial stewardship. Since we are the beneficiaries of Rocky Mountain National Park and our guests come miles and miles to see us, how do we create stewards of this beautiful asset for future generations to see? And that marries well with the financial stewardship. The panels pay for themselves in a number of years, and after that, they’re essentially producing money for our business. And they have a lower CO2 footprint and a better environmental footprint for our guests in years to come. My hope is the guests will see this and see us taking care of the park and the planet and choose to stay here instead. To support the businesses that support this natural wonder.”
“My advice for anyone who is interested in going solar is start running the traps. Take a look at it. Especially if you have good exposure and a good roofline, and you have the economic need for support power. It’s a tremendous opportunity to save money, invest in the future, and just be good environmental stewards.
Built in 1956, the Discovery Lodge has 57 rooms and even a 6-bedroom private cabin, making it the perfect, go-to spot for getaways to beautiful Estes Park and nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.
Learn more about the Discovery Lodge, and don’t forget to check out this pioneering system and the friendly accommodations next time you are in Estes Park! Several members of the IPS team were able to stay at the lodge during the system’s installation, and we speak very highly of the friendly staff and cozy rooms. The Discovery Lodge is the perfect choice for the eco-conscious traveler, and the only solar-powered hotel in town besides The Coyote Mountain Lodge (for now!).
“MY ADVICE FOR ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN GOING SOLAR IS START RUNNING THE TRAPS. TAKE A LOOK AT IT. ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE GOOD EXPOSURE AND A GOOD ROOFLINE, AND YOU HAVE THE ECONOMIC NEED FOR SUPPORT POWER. IT’S A TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE MONEY, INVEST IN THE FUTURE, AND JUST BE GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS.”