Cutting All Ties to the Grid

April 26 2010, 1:20 PM
Fowler, a town of 1,200 that farms melons, sweet corn, sugar beets, and cattle, seems improbable as a renewable energy mecca. But the Arkansas River Valley town in eastern Colorado, which has been in a slow decline since its 1950s heyday, is set to become more progressive than even Boulder when it comes to power. If the town's plans come to fruition, Fowler will generate its own electricity, biofuel, and manure-based gas, according to The Associated Press. The town will also convert an empty canning plant into a solar-panel factory. "This is absolutely changing the town," says Wayne Snider, the town manager and architect of the project. "This is not a pipe dream." Starting next month, 807 solar panels will go up at eight sites around town in a $1.2 million project built by Denver's Vibrant Solar. Together, the panels will generate 30,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, which is nearly enough to cover all of the town's municipal energy needs---reducing utility costs by about half. And there are ideas to save even more energy on the town's drawing table. It's the kind of story that should resonate well across the state, if the findings of a Colorado State University study are reliable. Coloradans not only like to hike the fourteeners and visit national parks, they still value a clean environment---despite the recession, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.