Salazar’s Interior Dept. stimulating work projects, job growth

Former Colorado senator Ken Salazar’s Department of the Interior has allotted $86.2 million in federal stimulus funds to Colorado so far, $14.6 million of which is going to Four Corners’ Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa plans to spend the money in part on two renewable energy projects and is opening bids on those projects in June and July.

The Park will place eight solar panels on the roof of the large headquarters, which will power the building and feed energy back into the grid; and it will replace the park’s old-school tram with three alternative-fuel vehicles.

These small Mesa Verde stimulus projects, which are being replicated in national parks across the country, are putting people to work in the short term while also creating jobs for the long term by feeding the renewable-energy industry, which limped by comparison through the big oil and gas years of the Bush Administration.

Alan Loy from from the Mesa Verde planning division says he’s putting out request for proposals for the projects in June and July. He’ll be looking for a firms to lay out the solar project and to help decide on the best vehicles to suit the park’s needs.

“These vehicles have to transport 55-60 people. We’re open to all fuels — biofuels, propane hybrids, diesel electrics, everything but compressed natural gas, probably, because we just don’t have the infrastructure to support it.”

Although Colorado is brimming with renewable-energy consultancies and contractors, the park is not bound to choose an in-state partner.

Secretary Salazar is in the process of selecting stimulus projects in all 50 states and has $3 billion to distribute. You can check on Salazar’s progress at the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act website.

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