Campgrounds and RV parks in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills are finding it pays to be green, including Auburn Gold Country RV Resort in Auburn.

According to a press release, the 66-site park, which also has three rental cabins and a small tent section, just completed installation of $500,000 solar power system.

“It’s a 105 kilowatt system that covers about 60% of our electrical needs,” said park owner John Grant.

Grant received a federal grant for the project, which covered $150,000, or 30% of the cost. He financed the remaining $350,000 with a 6% loan from Placer County.

“We’re a big rig park and those big RVs draw lots of power,” Grant said. “But the savings from generating our own solar power will offset what we have to pay in loans, so we’ll break even.”

Grant added that he’ll receive additional tax and depreciation savings as a result of installing the solar power system, which includes 444 panels on a 1.5-acre section of his park.

The solar system will also offset a considerable amount of carbon emissions each year, including 212,000 pounds of carbon dioxide; 145 pounds of NOX, a leading cause of smog; 36 pounds of S02, a leading cause of acid rain; and 42 pounds of particulates.

“We’re able to achieve these carbon pollution offsets because the power we consume with the solar system doesn’t have to be generated elsewhere,” Grant said.

Auburn Gold Country RV Resort is not the only privately owned RV resort in the Sierra foothills to have solar power. Other facilities include:

• Angels Camp RV & Camping Resort in Calaveras County installed a solar energy system three years ago.

• Campland on the Bay in San Diego invested in water saving showerheads and recycle bins. The park also encourages its employees to bicycle across the park as much as possible.

• Cottonwood Cove Resort and Marina on Lake Mohave, which is owned and operated by Forever Resorts, plans to build the nation’s first ever LEED certified floating green building this year. The floating eco-friendly structure will house boat rental and servicing operations.

• Coyote Valley RV Resort in Morgan Hill has invested in native, drought tolerant plants.

• Far Horizons 49’er Village RV Resort in Plymouth opened a new swimming pool complex three years ago that includes energy efficient pumps. Additionally, the park invested about $25,000 to develop a new source for raw water for resort irrigation needs.

• Pinewood Cove at Trinity Center, a 100-site campground uses only environmentally friendly cleaning products as well as energy and water saving devices, such as fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower heads

• Pleasure Cove Marina at Lake Berryessa, also managed by Forever Resorts, uses fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower heads at the marina’s campground.

• Vineyard RV Park in Vacaville, a 119-site park, has invested in water and energy saving fixtures after requesting water and power audits from its local utilities.