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Solar Energy International Campus

Solar Energy International (SEI) has a rich tradition instilled in community. Over the past 20 years more than 16,000 people from all 50 states and 66 countries have attended SEI’s renewable energy courses. Six years ago SEI expanded operations to include a 7-acre parcel of land amongst the diverse agricultural community in Paonia, CO. This expansion serves as a foundation to SEI’s long-range goal of creating a renewable energy and sustainable living educational center which provides a diverse and enriching forum for participants to engage and learn in. Looking ahead to the next 20 years the future looks bright for SEI and renewable energy as the organization moves forward with a vision and a design ethic that is intrinsic to the future of ecological systems and the biodiversity of our region and the planet. The SEI campus is grounded in nature and contemplative practice, and is dedicated to promoting ecological competence, and nurturing cooperation and creative dialogue among diverse people.

The core learning activity is around SEI’s state of the art Photovoltaic (PV) training facility. As part of SEI’s commitment to deliver code compliant, safety oriented, cutting edge curriculum and training opportunities to participants, SEI has continued to advance the hands-on training capabilities in PV. The PV training program explores the various system types (grid-direct, grid-tied with battery back-up, and stand- alone) and mounting techniques (roof mount, pole mount, and ground mount) common in the PV industry. Participants in SEI’s PV workshops work with instructors who have extensive field experience and are passionate about teaching, offering an unparalleled combination of hands-on knowledge and technical expertise. From detailed solar site analysis to system design and installation, SEI participants can experience many aspects of PV systems.

The members of the SEI staff enter their work with much excitement and ambition in moving the organization towards the vision of a world-class education center. On the horizon SEI holds many exciting opportunities including the design and development of a trend setting classroom building. This building will symbolize the core center of SEI activities and learning. The classroom will speak to SEI’s goals and ethics with a focus designed to impact the earth as gently as possible and to teach participants about the connections to the larger community of life. Demonstrations of renewable energy technologies and sustainable regenerative design principles will be cornerstones of a beautiful, stunning and smart building.

The Solar Energy International Education Center is a chance to expand upon the amazing SEI culture, community, and create a place that shares a renewed land ethic, a relationship that inspires and transcends the current paradigm and teaches people the essence of living a renewable and sustainable life. For more information about the future of SEI’s Eco-Campus contact Matthew Harris at 970-527-7657

Short description

The SEI educational center is equipped to provide hands-on experiential learning and showcase the potential for renewable energy technologies, especially photovoltaics. SEI’s educational center offers students an unparalleled opportunity to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom. Over the past six years SEI has hosted many ‘hands-on’ workshops, from Photovoltaics to Wind Power, Micro-hydro power, and Natural Building.

Travel information

Closest Airports:

We have a small airport in Paonia if you have your own plane: www.airnav.com/airport/7V
Attention! If you plan to fly to Paonia for your class, please read the following carefully:
Denver International Airport is 5 hours from Paonia by car. Salt Lake City Airport is approx. 6 hours from Paonia by car. You can take a smaller plane to either Grand Junction or Montrose airports, which bring you closer to Paonia, but you are still 1-1.5 hours away. AIRPORT SHUTTLES are expensive. You need to arrange transportation BEFORE you arrive at an airport. Here are your choices:

1. Rent a car. Make sure the car rental will be available if your plane arrives later in the evening. Also, you need a credit card for car rental, a debit card can be used but is problematic. Advantages of renting a car: you have transportation all week while in Paonia. SEI Discounts on Rental cars:

AVIS/BUDGET: SEI (and SEI students/friends) get 25% off all rental cars.

Use this: Y378524

ENTERPRISE: 5% off all rentals outside Colorado and special prices within Colorado.

If booking over the phone, account number is L12A513, which will pull up the special pricing schedule. If booking online, put account number in box “Optional: Coupon, Customer, or Corporate number”. Password is SOL.

International students can rent cars–they have to present their driver’s license from their home. A passport will not work, it must be a driver’s license.

2. USE the SEI Ride Board to connect with other students who may be coming in to the airport around the same time and share an airport shuttle or a taxi. Within 5 to 6 business days, you will receive information on how to log in to SEI’s Online Alumni and Career Center, where you will be able to access the SEI Ride Share Board.

3. Call one of the following people to pick you up and take you back to Paonia. These ladies are locals, and generally charge $100 to pick you up and bring you to Paonia. They are also on SEI’s Lodging List.

Sara Stevens, 970-527-4346 or 970-201-5238

Lynn Huey, 970-527-3773

Kimberly Carter, 970-527-6623 or 970-623-1014

Loretta Small, 970-527-6528 or 729-680-3736

Sylvia Hauptman, 970-527-4055 or 303-882-2545

Airport shuttles: Also, try Telluride Express at 888-212-8294 for airport pickup at either Montrose or Grand Junction airport locations, or American Spirit Shuttle at 970-523-7662 or http://www.americanspiritshuttle.net/.

Bicycles: Once in Paonia, students can use bicycles available at SEI.

Driving: Paonia is 1.5 hours from Grand Junction taking Hwy. 50 or 2 hours from Glenwood Springs (head towards Aspen, then take Hwy. 133 over McClure Pass)

Bus Stations: There is a Greyhound Station at 230 S. 5th St. in Grand Junction, CO, which is approximately 70 miles from the classroom. You can take the bus to the City of Delta, approx. 40 minutes from Paonia, but you will need to arrange transportation from there to Paonia.

Train Stations: There is also an Amtrak Station at 413 7th St, Glenwood Springs, CO, which is approximately 70 miles from the classroom, and a station at 339 South 1st Street in Grand Junction, CO, which is approximately 70 miles from the classroom. You will need to arrange transportation from either of those locations to Paonia.

Lodging recommendations

There is no lodging or camping available on SEI’s campus. The Paonia local lodging list is included as an attachment on your workshop confirmation email upon registration. This list contains commercial establishments plus rooms in local homes available for rent and camping options. You can also visit this website: www.deltacountycolorado.com/


Food: There are many wonderful restaurants in Paonia. For a listing of restaurants in Paonia and the surrounding area click here.

Weather: The weather in Paonia in the summer should be in the 80s or 90s during the day and then drop into the 50s or 60s at night. Though Paonia is semi-arid, there’s always the possibility of rain, especially in early July and September. For a more detailed look at the weather, go to weather.com.

The North Fork Valley is well-known for its fruit (pears, apricots, cherries, peaches, apples), grass-fed beef, vineyards and wineries, goats and goat cheese, and organic vegetables. You’ll see the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local,” bumper stickers everywhere! Students from The Culinary School of the Rockies intern at North Fork Valley farms in the summer and you may be able to attend one of their dinners.

There are two active coal mines west of Paonia. The mines employ almost 1,000 people to produce the quality, high BTU, low sulfur, low mercury coal. The coal travels by train through Paonia and the North Fork Valley. You can’t miss the coal train!

Paonia is at the foot of 11,400 ft. Mt. Lamborn and is the gateway to the West Elk Wilderness (east). To the northeast is the Grand Mesa, the highest plateau in the world, with over 3,000 lakes. To the south are the deep canyons cut by the rivers coming out of the Rockies, including the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

All of this means the opportunity for recreation: hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and jeeping.

For more information about Paonia and the North Fork Valley, visit the Paonia Chamber of Commerce.

For information about Delta County (Paonia), visit Delta County’s website.

Other useful links:

Local Newspaper

The Valley Organic Growers Association

Slow Food Western Slope

The Conservation Center

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