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Yellowstone Environmental Stewardship (YES!) Initiative


In 2007, Yellowstone National Park consumed 26.8 million kilowatt-hours of energy, costing $3.1 million. By 2016, Yellowstone will reduce electricity consumption by 15% through a variety of projects.

The (YES!) Initiative is a multi-year action plan to help Yellowstone further reduce its ecological footprint, increase operational efficiency, and better preserve Park resources for future generations.

Through the YES! Initiative, the Park will implement new technologies such as solar and micro hydropower, install high-efficiency appliances, equipment, lighting fixtures and sensors, and implement an energy education program. YES! is an initiative of t he Yellowstone Park Foundation, the official fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park. The Foundation continues to raise money to make the installation of new technologies possible.

Projects identified as priorities include:

Micro Hydropower
Yellowstone has a tradition of using clean energy. In fact, a Pelton water wheel was installed in 1911 to generate power from the existing water supply infrastructure at Mammoth Hot Springs. While the original system is defunct, recent studies have determined that a new micro hydropower system could once again provide clean energy to the Park.

(Note: While the Foundation had expected to raise private support for this project, in early 2009 the Park was awarded $1.65 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus fund to purchase the turbine and install the system. Annually, the new system will save an estimated 900,000 kilowatts of renewable energy and $80,000 in energy costs. This effort will help move the Park toward its electricity reduction goal and allows the Foundation to focus on other energy projects described below.)

Lighting Fixtures, Sensors, and Retrofits
There are more than 1,500 buildings and outdoor areas in Yellowstone that require the use of artificial light. Since 2000, the Park has been replacing inefficient fixtures and installing new technologies and designs to improve energy conservation. With the Yellowstone Park Foundation’s support, the Park will continue replacement of inefficient lighting fixtures, install motion sensors, and change out remaining incandescent bulbs.

Solar Energy
With the advent of new technologies, there is a growing list of applicable sites in the Park for solar energy. With the Yellowstone Park Foundation’s support, Yellowstone will phase in solar electricity and hot water technology from 2009 to 2013, for an annual savings of 450,000 kilowatts and $170,000. Examine feasibility of expanding solar to other areas of the park, beyond Lamar Buffalo Ranch

Micro-CHP Applications
Combined heat and power units, or Micro-CHP units, replace old gas furnaces and provide both electricity and heat more efficiently. With the Yellowstone Park Foundation’s support, Yellowstone will install eight new Micro-CHP units to test their applicability to the Park and save 32,000 kilowatts of energy each year. On lst of goals, but no progress to report.

Electric Meters
Yellowstone is limited in its ability to accurately measure its total energy consumption. It is critical that the Park install electric meters to create an improved energy-tracking system that will help guide the Park’s energy conservation strategy.  Thirty percent of the Park’s total energy consumption occurs at Mammoth Hot Springs headquarters because of its year-round operation. A 2008 pilot program used a meter in Mammoth to track the effects of employee behavior changes on actual, daily electricity consumption and proved a successful tool in conserving energy.  With support from the Yellowstone Park Foundation, the Park plans to install 20 additional power monitors in the Mammoth area.

For more information about the YES! Intiative, visit

Reprinted with permission from Yellowstone Park Foundation.


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