Rec Park bathhouse goes solar

Mark Morgan on the bathhouse roof
Mark Morgan on the bathhouse roof

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Last week a small crew—helped by a crane—hoisted solar panels onto the roof of a bathhouse in the Grand Marais Rec Park. Mark Morgan is installing the panels on the bathhouse roof. He teaches renewable energy classes at North House Folk School.

“This array will supply about 40 percent of the hot water for this shower building,” says Morgan.

The system on the Rec Park roof looks pretty big. Stacked side to side the panels are about 20 ft. long and about 10 ft. high. It looks like a lot, but it takes a lot of energy to keep up with the hot water demand at the park. This solar hot water project is the brainchild of folks involved with the Cook County Local Energy Project or CCLEP. CCLEP’s mission is to make energy more renewable on the North Shore. Don Grant is a member of CCLEP’s solar subcommittee.

Grant says, “One of the ideas we came up with was to install a solar hot water system at the campground where we could have signage to explain to people how it works and how you can help reduce fossil fuel consumption, reduce global warming issues etc. by using things like solar hot water.”

Mark Morgan says he thinks it’s a great educational project. “To have this on this roof and allow people to see it and know that it works, all the thousands of people that come through this campground, they are going to look at it and go, wow, they’re doing this in Grand Marais, MN, almost Canada, maybe we can do it at our place,” says Morgan. He adds, “It’s a good demonstration and I’m glad they’re doing it. They’re teaching and reducing their energy use at the same time.”

Funding for the project comes from the Laura Jane Musser Fund and The Clean Energy Resource Team, a public/private partnership working on renewable energy issues in Minnesota. Buck’s Hardware Hank in Grand Marais also contributed by don ating one of the solar panels. Don says the project will save the city around $800 to $1,000 a year. But, he says the public education piece is equally important.

“I think the science is clear that global warming is an issue and also that we’re eventually going to run out of fossil type fuels.  I think a lot of people just don’t realize that energy isn’t free and there are a lot of consequences of how we use energy now. So making people aware of sustainable and renewable ways of generating energy is pretty important,” Grant says.

If you want to see the panels, head down to the Rec Park. Eventually there will be signs posted that explain how the system works, but until then, you can satisfy your curiosity with a look. The panels are on top of the new bathhouse near the ball field.


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