Downtown Steamboat Springs businesses are now eligible to apply for a grant that would cover 80% of the cost to replace an existing part of the business for one that is greener and more energy efficient.
The grant, which is called the MainStreet Open for Business Grant, is funded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs as a response to helping local businesses recover from COVID-19 and transition to greener energy.
“If you know you have a freezer or a walk-in that’s about to go, now is the time to act,” MainStreet Steamboat Executive Director Lisa Popovich said. “We’re helping to save the planet and saving some money for businesses that could use the assistance right now.”
The city is partnership with MainStreet Steamboat, Solar United Neighbors and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council to work with businesses to apply.
Projects can range from installing solar panels, replacing outdated light bulbs or implementing new doors or windows. Businesses can begin sending in applications for grant funding Aug. 23 and work will be completed by June 2022.
Laura Sankey, a member of the project committee, said the grant funding does not have a specific deadline, but money is first come, first serve. She encouraged interested businesses to apply as soon as possible once the process opens.
“The quicker we can know what people are interested in doing, the faster we can get it into the grant process and then request the funding,” Sankey said. “We’re hoping we can get as many local businesses who are interested to let us know as quickly as possible.”
While the grant will only cover 80% of the costs, Sankey said sometimes there are other funding sources that can help businesses cover the remaining costs. Businesses that use the money specifically to implement solar energy are also eligible for solar tax credits from the federal government.
“We’re seeing all sorts of weird things from COVID to I-70 closing and as we have these ebbs and flows, it gives business some more resiliency,” Solar United Neighbors Colorado Program Director Bryce Carter said. “It’s a really exciting opportunity to help all of downtown Steamboat go more energy efficient.”
While historic buildings are important to the character of Steamboat, Popovich said they often have aging infrastructure that is not energy efficient. This grant aims to preserve community character while updating outdated parts of buildings.
In addition to helping power grids become more resilient, Popovich said businesses and households that transition to solar energy save money in the long run, as they are granted a tax credit and no longer have to pay hefty electric bills.
While the grant is currently only open to business located in downtown districts, Carter said they are hoping to create a Northwest Colorado solar co-op in the fall, expanding solar and other energy efficient opportunities to all businesses in the region.
Businesses interested in applying should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.