Campgrounds Find Solar-Powered Savings

April 18, 2014 by   - () 1 Comment

Solar 1 & 2 HerkimerWith the solar panels installed next to Caliente Springs Resort in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., “We’re going to be generating a lot of electricity,” co-owner Timonthy Manthie told Woodall’s Campground Management.

Indeed, about one megawatt of power each year.

Conveniently located on top of subterranean hot springs, Caliente Springs never has to use natural gas or electricity to heat its five swimming pools and 13 hot spas. But the resort does have to use to electricity — and lots of it — to pump the naturally heated water from deep underground wells into its swimming pools and spas. And with recent electricity rate increases from Southern California Edison, the cost of running those pumps — about 50 of them in all — combined with the costs of providing electricity to a 700-site RV resort, Caliente Springs’ electricity bill is more than $100,000 a year.

But the Manthie brothers think they can offset their ever rising electricity bills by investing in solar power. Working with Irvine, Calif.-based Shorebreak Energy Developers Inc., they are installing enough solar panels to cover virtually all of Caliente Springs’ power needs.

In fact, the Manthie brothers are so convinced they can use solar power to reduce their electricity bills that they have plans to install another major solar power generation system this summer at another Desert Hot Springs park — the 891-site Sky Valley Resort. They also plan to install solar panels at another 180-site park they just recently acquired in Ehrenberg, Ariz.

Other park operators are similarly enthused about investing in solar power, particularly as electricity costs continue to increase.

“It’s critical for us,” said Bill Milligan, general manager of Rancho Los Coches RV Park in Lakeside, Calif.

Milligan was still waiting for approval of his building permits at the time of this writing, but he hoped to have enough solar panels installed by May to cover 50 to 60% of his electricity needs. He also plans to install the panels on top of shade structures that will partially cover 18 of his RV sites. He said the shade structures will be installed in sunny locations at his park and should help his guests significantly lower their air conditioning bills during the summer months.

Meanwhile, Anaheim Resort RV Park in Anaheim, Calif. recently installed enough solar panels on top of its shaded parking areas to cover about 8 to 10% of its electricity needs, according to R. Vernon Mangels, the park’s CEO, adding that he pays about $100,000 a year in electricity costs. He added that if the solar system works as well as he hopes, he may add additional solar panels.

Several park operators around the country told WCM they have found it worthwhile to expand their solar power generating systems, including the Herkimer KOA in Herkimer, N.Y.

The park has a “solar colony” composed of three park model cabins. But while the cabins were originally equipped with enough solar panels to produce about 3,000 watts of electricity, the park recently hired Benton, N.H.-based Be Green Solar to expand the park’s solar generating system so that it could produce up to 7,000 watts.

“Before they had it set up as an off-grid system. The off-grid system was OK. However, it was woefully underpowered for what they wanted to do,” said John Hassell, Be Green Solar’s president.

Today, however, the solar colony produces enough power to satisfy the electricity needs of the three cabins. “During the winter, virtually 100% of the power generated (by the solar colony) is sold back to the power company,” Hassell said.

For the full story, including information from other RV parks using solar power to reduce their electricity bills, pick up April’s issue of Woodall’s Campground Management or click here.


One Response to “Campgrounds Find Solar-Powered Savings”

  1. Debbie Levis on October 13th, 2014 8:53 pm

    The Manthei brothers have erected those solar panels at Sky Valley resort as close as 80 feet from the back door of some of their sites. Since they installed these after June 1st and before Oct. 1st, many winter residents would not have seen the change in the desert. Many of these people come for peace and quiet and the serene desert views.