Torrey, Utah, the Gateway community to Capitol Reef National Park, has a new solar-powered pavilion. Members of a rural electric cooperative anticipate this will be part of the long-term shift away from coal.
A new solar-powered pavilion was formally dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday and is located next to the Torrey town park. The installment features 99 solar panels providing a shaded area with picnic tables, and 34,000 watts of power for members of Garkane Energy, a rural electric cooperative with members in southern Utah and Northern Arizona.
“Solar definitely fills a niche. It does, ” said Tracy Potter of Torrey, a member of Garkane’s Board of Directors.
Potter said the challenge they face now is working through the issue of storage as solar becomes part of the long-term shift away from coal-fired electricity.
“Coal, it will come to an end. It's not a matter of if, but when. And both of the Board of Directors at Garkane Energy and the Board of Directors and the CEO of Deseret Power are very well aware of that and are exploring other options, but they've still got some time,” Potter said.
The company has constructed similar pavilions in Kanab and Escalante. Each system provides, in full sunshine, enough energy to power five average-sized homes.
Garkane CEO and General Manager Dan McClendon said the cooperative purchases its energy, wholesale, from Deseret Power, which operates a coal-fired plant near Vernal, but says he thinks a transition to alternatives “is a given.”