Cripple Creek to hold open house Friday for solar project

The public is being invited to attend Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club’s open house and ribbon-cutting for their four-part solar project on Friday, April 15.

Light refreshments will be served, and local officials and Flexera engineering, financial, legal and design experts will be on hand to answer questions and explain the processes, costs and current government incentives for installing solar and other forms of alternative energy for commercial and residential properties.

According to Flexera, Cripple Creek is the first golf and country club in Delaware to go solar.

They have four different systems, three roof-mounted systems and one ground-mounted system: an 8,190-watt, 39-panel system for the pool; a 17,640-watt, 84-panel system for the golf-cart barn; a 12,600-watt, 60-panel system for the maintenance facility; and a 15,120-watt, 72-panel system for the irrigation systems.

“There’s lots of power out there,” offered Jon Donato of Flexera, adding the company has garnered interest from other communities for similar projects. He said they will have guided tours on Friday for anyone interested in getting more information.

The pool and cart systems at Cripple Creek were up and running in December. The maintenance facility system went live in January, and the irrigation system was online in February. The club’s energy cost for February – the first full month of operation for all four systems – was less than 40 percent of the previous year’s cost for the same period, according to Flexera Vice President Benjamin Farr.

Flexera also provided a comprehensive energy audit and plan for Cripple Creek – a major thing many people overlook, said Farr, when looking at reducing energy costs.

“Even if you don’t think you can afford solar or wind now, there are things most people can do to reduce their energy costs right away – and they should be done to maximize savings, even if you’re installing an alternative energy system.”

“Part of every project we do is an energy audit, looking at every avenue where energy savings can be made – for instance checking the HVAC, converting light fixtures to LEDs, which are incredibly efficient,” said Farr.

Farr said Cripple Creek will have two full months of figures to discuss with the public by April 15.

“We’re very excited about this project,” he said.

“At this point in time, we’re very satisfied with the operation of the system and the financial results,” said Cripple Creek Treasurer Tom Hunsberger. “The panels blend in with the roofs, and we’re selling energy back to Delaware Electric Co-op, and when we’re not doing that, we’re reducing our power bills. And that helps us contain costs for our members.”

Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club is located at 29494 Cripple Creek Drive near Dagsboro.