Don Grant, a leader of the project explains: “The panels have eliminated complaints about losing hot water in the bathhouse. In the past, complaints were common during the 4th of July and the local Fisherman’s Picnic (festival) weekends.” Campers are also learning through educational displays that accompany the solar panels, as they reap the benefit of heated water while off the grid!
The Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) was looking for opportunities to implement solar hot water systems into local buildings in order to demonstrate their benefits to community members. Recreation Park in Grand Marais proved a viable location for such a project, and in 2010, CCLEP spearheaded the construction of a solar hot water system on the roof of their new shower house.
CCLEP submitted a grant proposal to the Northeast Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT). Both the NE CERT and the local community were enthusiastic about the prospect. Don Grant, owner of North Shore Sustainable Energy (NSSE) and a leader of the project described the significance: “The work of CCLEP in recent years has made the community aware of the need for more sustainable energy usage. We simply described the benefits of the system and support was received.”
Gary Atwood of TEXTplorations provided the educational component to the project by designing two display cases describing the mechanical aspects of the solar hot water system and the environmental benefits of using solar energy, as well as space for periodic system updates.
The solar hot water system will save the city of Grand Marais between $800 and $1,000 a year in heating costs. Grant monitored the production of hot water between May 15, 2011 and August 1, 2011 and found that the campground saved 1,817 kilowatt hours of electricity—or enough to power the average American home for two months!
Dan Thiede is the Communications Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams, or CERTs, at the University of Minnesota. CERTs works to advance the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in communities across Minnesota by helping people learn, connect, and act.