In 2018, Western Colorado University Masters of Environment & Sustainability student Loren Ahonen took the reins on a project to provide renewable energy to the Gunnison Valley. The project is a partnership with the City of Gunnison and Gunnison County to install a solar array at the Gunnison Regional Airport. Western, the County and the City will each receive a third of the system’s power to support energy needs in the community.
Western Colorado University’s Commitment to Sustainability
“As an educational institution, Western has an obligation to be more aggressively pursuing greenhouse gas mitigation through our electric portfolio,” said Ahonen. “Building a renewable project like that was a push for sustainability throughout the City and the County.”
Though the solar array finished construction in 2020, the system hasn’t yet been functional due to global supply chain issues delaying necessary equipment. The array is expected to begin sending about 483,000 kWh of electricity annually to the Western campus this June.
“Western has been a vital partner to the success of the solar array project that is located at the Gunnison Regional Airport from the beginning. Western and the County have shared values and goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operations and to invest in our community strategically to meet our goals. Western’s cash contribution early in the project was vital to bringing it to fruition,” said John Cattles, Assistant County Manager for Operations and Sustainability. “This project will benefit Western, the City of Gunnison, and the County with locally produced solar energy.”
Author Credit: Kinlee Whitney
Photo Credit: John McKeith