Post Independent – Solar array, storage facility adds to Colorado Mountain College’s sustainability legacy

A Wednesday ribbon-cutting on the new 4.5-megawatt solar array and battery storage complex at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus signaled a full circle trip around the sun for local solar installer Scott Ely.

He recalls attending a solar retrofit program at the college in 1987, before going on to start his own company, Carbondale-based Sunsense Solar, a few years later.

At the time, CMC was one of only a few higher education institutions in the country pioneering a solar-technology program.

Today, an extension of those early efforts is the college’s bachelor of arts degree program in sustainability studies and a general focus on the environment, including a commitment to be carbon neutral across its 11 campuses by 2050.

“CMC’s foresight 35 years ago is now coming to fruition,” Ely said. His small company of 30 employees, which has now been in business for over 32 years, is an example of that success, he said.

“This project is certainly one of our grandest accomplishments to date,” he said during a formal ceremony at CMC-Spring Valley celebrating the near completion of what, for a short time anyway, will be Colorado’s largest solar array and battery-storage facility.

Sunsense was selected as the solar engineering and construction contractor through a unique partnership between CMC, local rural electric cooperative Holy Cross Energy, and solar developer and financing agent Ameresco of Framingham, Massachusetts.

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