Outdoor adventure park opens West Virginia’s first solar-powered hotel
HARPERS FERRY – The first solar-powered hotel in West Virginia is now open in Harpers Ferry. The public was invited to a ribbon cutting on March 23, at the Quality Inn, 4328 William L Wilson Freeway, Harpers Ferry.
By acquiring the former Cliffside Quality Inn, outdoor adventure company River Riders Inc. saved 32 local jobs. The company renovated the inn to expand its amenities, conference, food service and activity offerings. Other River Riders accommodations include riverside cabins, tent sites and RV campground.
River Riders leads white water rafting, tubing, kayaking and other water adventures on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers in Harpers Ferry. The company also offers zip lining, treetop canopy tour, mountain biking and other outdoor activities.
The hotel is home to the third largest solar array in the state. The energy system was designed and installed by Mountain View Solar of Berkeley Springs. The rooftop array consists of 289 SolarWorld 285W modules. The 82.4kW system will produce enough energy to offset an estimated $10,000+ annually in electricity costs. An electric vehicle charger is also being installed at the parking lot, which will allow guests to recharge their electric/hybrid cars during their stay.
To get the best sun exposure, the solar panels cover the hotel roof’s back side. Although most visitors won’t get a view of the solar panels, a display screen in the hotel lobby provides 24/7 visual coverage of the energy output of the system, the total energy generated to date and other data.
Mountain View Solar used a drone to take aerial photos of the solar array in the rear of the hotel. The photos and the monitoring system were on display during the March 23 ceremony. A Mountain View Solar representative was also on hand at the ceremony to describe how the system works.
Even before River Riders acquired the Quality Inn, the inn and adventure company had a cooperative relationship with walking trails connecting the two.
“It was a natural fit,” said River Riders’ owner Matthew Knott. “Doing renovations also gave us the right time to install the solar energy system. I plan to add more solar, off-grid cabins and other green practices as we grow.”
The right financial and management incentives were also in place. The USDA awarded Knott a Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, grant to assist with the cost of installing the solar energy system. The Natural Capital Investment Fund’s Energy Initiative provided a grant for administrative support.
The Jefferson County Development Authority put Knott in touch with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center. Mary Hott, the WVSBDC Eastern Panhandle Center business coach located in Martinsburg, worked with Knott to develop a business plan to secure a loan for the hotel acquisition. Business coaches like Hott operate from SBDC offices distributed across West Virginia. They collaborate with other business coaches in the statewide network to help entrepreneurs start, sustain and expand their businesses.
The WVSBDC is part of the West Virginia Development Office and creates economic impact by offering cost-effective business coaching and technical assistance. The SBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and is an Accredited Member of America’s Small Business Development Center network. For more information visit www.wvsbdc.org.