Boulder’s latest climbing gym — which just upped the number of places local hardmen (and hardwomen) can pull down on plastic holds to 3 — was awarded one of 12 companies to get money in the first round of federal renewable energy grants from the stimulus act.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which passed in February, allows companies to get a cash grant for up to 30 percent of the cost of installing renewable energy, instead of getting a tax credit for the same amount.
The grant to the climbing gym, which opened in late July, was the smallest of the 12. The largest, $114 million, went to a wind farm in Texas.
After months of waiting, stimulus dollars freed up in February have trickled into Boulder, reinvigorating the local solar industry.
It took until June for the feds to figure out how some of the programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be administered, including language that allowed companies to take a cash grant, instead of a tax credit, worth 30 percent of the cost for installing solar.
And since companies have to be profitable to take a tax credit, the change could mean a big boom in solar.
In Boulder County, Namaste Solar Electric is just starting up its first big commercial project since the economy tanked last fall. They’re installing a 100 kilowatt solar array on the roof of the Eldorado Natural Spring Water’s Louisville building. (That’s a solar-panel spread about 25 times larger than the average residential display.)
“Last October, all sectors of the economy took a hit, and for us, all of our projects, especially the commercial projects, were put on indefinite hold,” said Blake Jones, president of Namaste Solar.
“This is the first big commercial project since the recovery act. We’ve been waiting six months for this to happen. That’s the kind of lag time it took for the rules to be figured out.”