New Thomas Jefferson Solar Canopy at Mount Rushmore National Memorial Amps up Efforts by Xanterra Travel Collection to Create Greener National Parks & Memorials
MOUNT RUSHMORE (KEYSTONE), SOUTH DAKOTA – On Earth Day, Monday, April 22, at 2 p.m Xanterra Travel Collection is set to unveil the new Thomas Jefferson Solar Canopy at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This extraordinary structure provides over half of the electricity used by Xanterra’s gift shop and restaurant at Mount Rushmore. The system is the second largest solar installation in the state. It will reduce Xanterra’s greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent or 56 MT CO2e/yr which is the equivalent of taking 30 passenger vehicles off the road each year.
The system includes 975 solar panels mounted on a carport structure. The project was funded by Xanterra Travel Collection, a global adventure travel company and the largest national park concessioner in the U.S., which operates the parking facility. The project was designed and managed by Pivot Energy and was built by SunPower Corporation and Circuitus Energy.
The solar canopy was completed in conjunction with many other improvements to the parking facility including a Parking Access Revenue Control System, which provides guests the opportunity to pay for parking on foot during their visit, and an Automatic Parking Guidance System, which indicates how many parking spaces are available in each area. Other significant improvements include all new LED lights and lighting controls, sustainability signage, a tire inflation station, bicycle lockers, and electric vehicle charging stations that will be coming soon.
These modernizations and environmental improvements to the parking facility support Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s status as a Climate Friendly Park. This status indicates that the National Park Service, Xanterra, and other park partners are carrying out a climate action plan focusing on sustainability, energy reduction, waste management, water usage, and adopting other best practices.
More details about the improvements will be announced by Xanterra, National Park Service, and other partners at a formal ribbon cutting ceremony on April 22 at 2 p.m. MDT under the solar canopy on the parking facility.
Xanterra’s new solar installation at Mount Rushmore comes on the heels of an ambitious sustainability program in 2018 that now helps produce clean, renewable energy for facilities in several of the country’s iconic national parks including Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and Death Valley National Park in California. The four new systems generate a total of 4.5 million kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to the energy used in about 426 average American homes and will avoid the carbon emissions from 3.7 million pounds of coal each year.
Two of the systems, in Rocky Mountain National Park and at The Oasis in Death Valley National Park, are specifically designed to withstand extreme natural conditions – high elevation, below-zero temperatures, significant snowfall and very strong winds at the former and intense heat and desert conditions at the latter.
A leader in addressing climate change for nearly two decades, Xanterra is focused on the challenge of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions as part of its overall commitment to operate with “a softer footprint.” The company’s 2025 corporate sustainability goals include using 5 percent less energy annually and reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent between 2014 and 2025.
“As many of Xanterra’s national park operations are literally at the end of the electric transmission line, renewable energy options such as solar provide us with reliable power while also decreasing our overall carbon emissions,” said Andrew N. Todd, President and CEO of Xanterra. “Our commitment to the environment and the communities in which we operate remains constant, and we will continually search for ways to collaborate with the National Park Service to modernize our infrastructure and implement new technologies that help us reach our ambitious 2025 goals.”