Solar panels at

Solar panels at Caliente Springs Resort

With the solar panels installed next to Caliente Springs Resort in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., “We’re going to be generating a lot of electricity,” co-owner Timonthy Manthie told Woodall’s Campground Management. Indeed, about one megawatt of power each year.

Conveniently located on top of subterranean hot springs, Caliente Springs never has to use natural gas or electricity to heat its five swimming pools and 13 hot spas. But the resort does have to use to electricity — and lots of it — to pump the naturally heated water from deep underground wells into its swimming pools and spas. And with recent electricity rate increases from Southern California Edison, the cost of running those pumps — about 50 of them in all — combined with the costs of providing electricity to a 700-site RV resort, Caliente Springs’ electricity bill is more than $100,000 a year.

But the Manthie brothers think they can offset their ever rising electricity bills by investing in solar power. Working with Irvine, Calif.-based Shorebreak Energy Developers Inc., they are installing enough solar panels to cover virtually all of Caliente Springs’ power needs.

In fact, the Manthie brothers are so convinced they can use solar power to reduce their electricity bills that they have plans to install another major solar power generation system this summer at another Desert Hot Springs park — the 891-site Sky Valley Resort. They also plan to install solar panels at another 180-site park they just recently acquired in Ehrenberg, Ariz.

Other park operators are similarly enthused about investing in solar power, particularly as electricity costs continue to increase.

“It’s critical for us,” said Bill Milligan, general manager of Rancho Los Coches RV Park in Lakeside, Calif.

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