Glacier National Park plans to install solar panels at the Apgar Visitor Center, thanks to a grant from the Glacier National Park Conservancy with money raised by Climate Ride, a Whitefish-based nonprofit.
Glacier Park spokesperson Lauren Alley said the project is still in the design phase and no timeline has been set for the installation. A kiosk display explaining the energy produced by the solar panels will also be included.
“This installation will help our developments within the park be more sustainable,” Alley said.
Early plans call for the installation of 50 panels, 340 watts each, on the visitor center’s roof. Officials say the 17-kilowatt system will help the National Park Service save money on future energy costs. The Apgar solar installation is the latest in a number of similar projects around the park. In recent years, the Park Service has installed solar panels in Polebridge to power the ranger station and at some employee housing facilities, as well as at the Logan Pass Visitor Center.
The Apgar project is expected to cost $50,000, all of which will be covered by the $78,000 raised by the 2017 Climate Ride, which is also helping cover the popular hiker-biker shuttles on Going-to-the-Sun Road this spring. Climate Ride has been around for three years and raises money through annual group bike rides.
“I created Climate Ride to give people a uniquely positive way to get involved. Through Glacier Ride, we have helped grant nearly $173,000 to the Glacier National Park Conservancy over the past three years,” said Caeli Quinn, the executive director of Climate Ride. “I’m deeply moved to see Climate Ride have such a significant local impact supporting our beautiful national park.”
Nikki Eisinger, developmental director for the Glacier National Park Conservancy, said she believes the solar panels at Apgar will inspire others in the area to consider more sustainable energy sources.
“This is going to save the Park Service a lot of money,” she said. “We hope it sets a good example for the community as a whole.”
Eisinger said the partnership between Climate Ride, the Conservancy and the park provides a roadmap for future endeavors in Glacier.
“Federal dollars continue to dwindle, so these types of partnerships are a model for the future,” she said.