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Solar power is coming to Vail’s Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

Vail, Colo., Sept. 8, 2022 — The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater has long been known for ‘breaking new ground’ in the world of arts and entertainment. The venue has hosted major music acts, world-famous orchestras, the nation’s top dance festival, community events, and more since its opening in 1987.

Today, the venue breaks ground in a new way: this time on a construction project that will bring a solar photovoltaic array to the venue.

“We are very pleased to be initiating work on this important new improvement to this cherished venue, and we are grateful for the support of the Town of Vail, Holy Cross Energy, Sunsense Solar, Zehren Architects, and all of our donors and supporters who are helping make this vision a reality,” said Mike Imhof, president of the nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation, which manages the venue as part of its mission to raise quality of life in the Vail Valley, and showcase the community to a global audience through arts, athletics, and education. “It is a seminal moment for the venue and we look forward to the moment when it can begin to produce some of its own, clean, energy.”

The unique roofline of the venue is one of the venue’s defining attributes and a key component of its architecture and brand identity. The shape of the roof is reminiscent of sound waves emanating from the stage. The venue’s roofline and brand icon can also be seen as sun rays emulating the Rocky Mountain’s sunny summers.

Periodically the waterproof membrane in the iconic roof must be replaced, and the Vail Valley Foundation is taking advantage of that routine maintenance project to install the new photovoltaic system. The renovation will also include a series of smaller-scale maintenance items and improvements.

“We have been planning to add solar to the venue for years, and the timing is perfect to coincide with the replacement of the roof membrane,” said Dave Dressman, Vice President of Sales and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater for the Vail Valley Foundation. “This venue blends in perfectly with Gore Creek and the Rocky Mountains that surround it, so it only makes sense that the venue should be as much in harmony with nature as possible.”

Partnering for power

The project is being led by the nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation in coordination with Sunsense Solar and Holy Cross Energy. The onsite construction is being performed by Turner Morris. The solar grid interconnect is a dual strategy consisting of 25kW of net-metering array as well as a 33kW DER generation tariff array.

“What does that mean in plain terms? It means we are likely to offset a quarter of our annual electricity usage, perhaps more, and therefore take a huge step in reducing our venue’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Dressman said.

The array will produce power year-round, even though the venue is only open spring-to-autumn. In winter, the power will be sent back to the Holy Cross Energy grid. Statistics on the system will be closely tracked, and the venue is installing a power-generation kiosk where visitors can see how much power the solar array has produced.

“Whenever there is a high-profile renewable energy project like this, not only does it help reduce carbon emissions, but it also means more people will become informed about the benefits of creating cleaner energy,” said Jenna Weatherred, VP of Member & Community Relations at Holy Cross Energy. “We’re glad to be a part of the project and we applaud the Vail Valley Foundation for taking this step forward.”

“This is an exciting project for our company and the Vail community to be a part of, and we’re excited to see this dual-grid process in action to help provide power for the performing arts,” said Cristian Basso of Sunsense Solar.

“The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is a treasure to our community and to the Rocky Mountain Region, and we are so pleased to be a part of this effort to reduce the venue’s environmental footprint,” said Vail Mayor Kim Langmaid. “Every step forward we can make to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is welcome.”

The Town of Vail became the first sustainable mountain resort destination in the world as certified by Green Destinations in 2018. The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, as one of the Town’s top destination locations, took part in that process, and is dedicated to continued sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.

“We are always working to do more, step by step, to take care of our natural surroundings and make our activities here low-impact on the environment, and high-impact in terms of delivering world-class performing arts experiences to our community,” Dressman said.

The venue will be closed throughout the remainder of the fall and winter, and is expected to re-open in the spring. If all goes well, Dressman said, the venue will begin producing power this winter.

Learn more about the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater at grfavail.com.

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About the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

Each summer, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail plays host to an array of cultural and entertainment offerings, ranging from headliner music and comedy, to internationally renowned dance and classical music presentations, courtesy of the Vail Dance Festival and the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, to the free weekly concerts of the Hot Summer Nights series. In addition, local chorale and theater presentations annually grace the Amphitheater stage. The venue, named after President Gerald R. Ford and family, opened in 1987, and is operated by the nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation.

Learn more at grfavail.com.

About the Vail Valley Foundation

The Vail Valley Foundation is a 501c3 Colorado nonprofit corporation with a mission to enhance the quality of life in the Vail Valley and showcase our community to a global audience through arts, athletics, and education.

The organization’s work in education is through YouthPower365, a 501c3 Colorado nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire, educate and empower youth and families from early childhood to college and career readiness. The Vail Valley Foundation also provides the Vail Valley with several of its most treasured annual events, such as the GoPro Mountain Games,the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup races, the Vail Dance Festival, and the Hot Summer Nights and ShowDown Town free concert series. The Vail Valley Foundation also manages and operates two performing arts centers, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail and the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Village , providing more than 150 Broadway, dance, comedy, classical, rock, pop, jazz, community and family events per year.

Vail Valley Foundation activities and events are in part made possible by cornerstone partners: the Town of Vail, Vail Resorts, Beaver Creek Resort Company, GMC, Nature Valley, Constellation Brands, CELSIUS Energy, TINCUP Whiskey, and Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate.

To learn more about the Vail Valley Foundation visit www.vvf.org.