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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

July 29, 2014, Vol. 7, No. 6

Parachute’s solar flowers now powering
electric vehicle charging

Exit 75 becomes important link along I-70 for EV owners

The Town of Parachute is using the unique solar flowers at its I-70 Rest Area to power a new charging station for electric vehicles. The charger was installed at the rest area parking lot in June.

Ford C-Max recharging at the Parachute Rest Area

CLEER Energy Engineer Mike Ogburn took this photo of his Ford C-Max recharging at the Parachute I-70 Rest Area. Behind Mike are the three solar flowers that power the rest area.

A $3,640 grant from Charge Ahead Colorado, with a $910 local match from the town government, funded the charger. CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy assisted Town Manager Stuart McArthur with technical details needed to apply for the state government grant.

The three solar flowers at the rest area produce about 3 kilowatts of electricity. They’ve been used since 2010 to power the rest area information center cabin and adjacent public restrooms. Now some of this power can also be used to power the electric vehicle (EV) charger.

The 30-amp Level 2 charger made by Eaton can pump up to 6.6 kW into an EV battery. At this rate an all-electric vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf, can store enough electricity from one hour of charging to travel 25 miles. A typical plug-in hybrid, such as a Toyota Prius or Ford C-Max, usually draws only 3.3kW from the charger and can receive enough electricity in an hour to power 12 miles of driving.

Electric Vehicle charging metrics

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
Toyota Prius, Ford C-Max, Chevy Volt
1 hour of Level 2 charging (3.3 kW, 15A)
= 8 to 12 miles of driving

Electricity cost & time to fully charge varies by vehicle:
Prius plug-in: 40 cents, full in 1.5 hrs, 10 miles EV range.
C-MAX: 65 cents, full in 2.2 hours, 20 miles EV range.
Volt: $1.50, full in 4 hours of charging, 40 miles EV range.

All-electric vehicles
Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, BMW i3
1 hour of Level 2 charging (6.6 kW, 30A)
= 25 miles of driving

Electricity cost & time to fully charge:
$2, full in 4 hours, 70 to 100 miles of driving

Note: Actual cost varies by electric utility and the electric rate structure at the site where the charger is installed. Actual range, like any gasoline vehicle, depends on driving style and average speed. Level 2 charge standards allow up to 19 kW (80 amps), although few vehicles are designed to use the full capability of the standard. The batteries in plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are designed to last the life of the vehicle and come with eight-year, 100,000-mile warranties.

If the electricity production from the solar flowers were only being used to charge electric vehicles, their annual production of electricity would power 15,000 miles of all-electric driving, according to Mike Ogburn, energy engineer for CLEER.

Parachute’s is the third electric vehicle charger in the county at a facility equipped with solar panels, joining EV chargers at solar-powered Carbondale Town Hall and the Colorado Mountain College Rifle campus.

“This is an important link in the EV charging network for all plug-in drivers, but especially for Nissan Leaf owners,” said Ogburn. “Without the Parachute charging station, a Leaf owner in the Aspen, Vail or Glenwood Springs area cannot get to the Nissan dealer in Grand Junction under its own power.”

Free public EV charging is also available at the Cooper Avenue parking structure in downtown Glenwood Springs.

Parachute’s charging is free, based on the simple principle that paying for a billing system often costs more than electricity itself. Free charging also attracts more drivers, and gives them a reason to stop in Parachute for a meal or shopping.

“Parachute’s rest area is already a popular way station for I-70. This is another amenity to encourage people to spend time there,” Ogburn said.

“And where else can you find both solar powered EV charging and a compressed natural gas fueling station, all within 100 feet of each other? Parachute is showing initiative by offering a diversity of transportation fuels, even as it is a hub for natural gas production,” he said.

Other solar arrays in Parachute power the Town Hall, water treatment plant and the Parachute Branch Library, the distinctive Old Mountain Gift and Jewelry across the street from the rest area, and small off-grid solar systems power the telemetry systems for producing gas wells throughout the area.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Energy Office is offering another round of grants to help pay for EV charging stations. Thanks to legislation passed in 2014, many more types of organizations are eligible to apply, including private businesses, state agencies, colleges, and multi-family housing. Grant applications are due Aug. 12. More info here.

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State of Colorado offers $60 million in incentives
for electric, CNG vehicles and fueling

Grants, tax credits to drive up use of domestic fuels for transportation

Grants offered by state agencies plus expanded state tax credits have put $60 million on the table for alternative fuel vehicles and fueling station infrastructure in Colorado. It’s a significant number, representing 21 percent of gasoline and diesel sales in Colorado in 2013.

State of Colorado funding for alternative fuels

Department of Local Affairs Alternative Fuels Initiative: $20 million

Colorado Energy Office (CEO) fueling station grants: $15 million

CEO / Regional Air Quality Council
vehicle grants: $15 million

State income tax credits (2014 & 2015):
est. $10 million

Total: $60 million

Local governments, businesses and individual motorists stand to benefit from the combined state-level push to drive up use of electric, propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

Through its alternative vehicle expertise and policy work, CLEER is a key player in this statewide effort.

The Colorado Energy Office has also awarded to CLEER a six-month extension of Refuel Colorado Fleets. It’s a pilot program to provide free energy coaching for fleets to make the switch to alternative fuels. The program will now run through Dec. 31, and expand from nine counties to 14.

“The State of Colorado is offering an impressive amount of money in grants, tax credits and free energy coaching for fleets in order to ramp up our use of electricity, propane and natural gas as transportation fuels,” said Mike Ogburn, Energy Engineer with CLEER and manager of the Refuel Colorado Fleets program.

DOLA’s Alternative Fuels Initiative

In July, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs rolled out its Alternative Fuels Initiative, a $20 million offer to local governments to buy down the cost of alternative fuel vehicles for their fleets. The Initiative grew out of a proposal that CLEER made to DOLA in 2013, suggesting an alt-fuels grant program for local governments that would complement the income tax credits available to private sector vehicle buyers.

“It is exciting to see how CLEER’s ideas and efforts, together with the resourcefulness of leaders in state government agencies, are being combined to deliver big environmental and economic benefits to Colorado,” Ogburn added.

DOLA amended its rolling stock policy in March to allow energy impact grants for vehicles powered by domestically-produced alternative fuels. It announced the Alternative Fuels Initiative in June to fund $20 million in grants, offered separately from its regular, priority-based energy impact grants. Applications for the first round of funding are due Aug. 1.

The DOLA grants will cover the premium cost for an alt-fuels vehicle vs a traditional vehicle, which can range from $4,500 for a plug-in hybrid passenger car, to $10,000 for a light-duty pickup or an all-electric vehicle, to as much as $40,000 for a heavy-duty dump truck, refuse truck or transit bus. The local match for the grant will be the base cost of the vehicle.

DOLA’s initiative may also be used to fund a local government’s share of alternative fueling infrastructure, such as a transit bus or refuse truck fueling facility, and for projects to develop alternative fuel resources, such as the City of Grand Junction’s methane-capture-to-CNG project at its wastewater treatment plant.

Chris Broadhurst with a CNG Chevy Silverado

Chris Broadhurst, president of R and A Enterprises in Glenwood Springs, demo'd this CNG-powered Chevy Silverado last week. The truck was on loan from General Motors via John Elway Chevrolet in Littleton. For more deets on this sweet ride, check out the GM web page.

CEO’s Alternative Fuels Colorado

Meanwhile, the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) is using a $30 million Federal Highway Administration grant awarded last winter for a four-year program to fund vehicles and fueling stations, called Alternative Fuels Colorado.

CEO is using $15 million from the federal grant to help fund equipment costs for new CNG fueling stations around the state. These stations typically cost $1 million or more, and grants of up to $500,000 are being offered to station developers. Applications for the first round of funding were due last week.

CEO and the Denver-based Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC), an intergovernmental partnership, are using the other $15 million to buy down the cost of alternative fuel vehicles for fleets and individual drivers. This program is only for Colorado’s air quality non-attainment area, which covers the heavily populated Front Range, including Fort Collins, Greeley and the Denver metro area.

The RAQC and DOLA vehicle grant programs will not overlap geographically. The RAQC grants are offered to private sector and local government vehicle buyers along the Front Range, while DOLA’s program is offered to local governments in the rest of Colorado.

Expanded state tax credits

Topping off these programs are an estimated $10 million in income tax credits that can be claimed by private sector vehicle buyers statewide for the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. Legislation passed this year, House Bill 1326, expanded the types of vehicles eligible for the tax credit to include medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and raised the cap to $15,000 for medium-duty and $20,000 for heavy-duty trucks. Previously, a tax credit enacted in 2013 capped the credit at $6,000 for all vehicles.

The new credit is expected to cost the state $10.5 million in fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16. The credits taper off after 2016, but continue through 2021. Legislators made the new credits revenue-positive by ending a sales and use tax exemption for low-emission heavy trucks — unless they run on alternative fuels such as CNG or LNG. That exemption was costing the state about $6 million a year, while the new tax credits are expected to cost about $1 million per year less.

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Double efficiency upgrades result in 42%
electrical savings for Roaring Fork Liquors

2012 refrigeration upgrade coupled with 2013 lighting upgrade
yields ‘hefty decreases’ in energy use for Glenwood Springs store

By Trina Ortega
Clean Energy Economy News

When making business decisions, Roaring Fork Liquors owner Ken Robinson is willing to spend money if it will save him money. When he saw how much refrigeration and lighting upgrades would cost for his store in south Glenwood Springs compared with how much he’d save in both rebates and future electrical bills, he couldn’t say no.

CLEER energy coaches began working with Robinson in early 2012 to identify energy efficiency opportunities for his 3,800-square-foot commercial space in south Glenwood. Robinson joined the Garfield Clean Energy Challenge and began his energy efficiency journey that included two separate projects in two different years.

For the first project, Robinson got a bid from FridgeWize in Glenwood Springs (called FridgeTek at the time) for the upgrades to the store’s refrigeration cases and coolers. FridgeWize measured the energy use of the three cooling units, which each draw separate power readings. Then Robinson, who likes to do his homework, created his own charts and spreadsheets to double-check the data.

Ken Robinson

Ken Robinson, owner of Roaring Fork Liquors, has the store's energy usage charted month by month so he can track savings from two energy efficiency retrofits.
-- Photo by Cameron Burns

“It’s the same thing you’d do if you were going to buy something. You ask: How much does it cost right now? What are you going to change? How much is it going to cost afterwards? How much power are you going to use before and after? You quantify that so you can put a number on it,” he said.

“FridgeTek broke it down pretty good. At least at that point it was not just ‘blah blah blah.’ Then you take those numbers and do some statistical analysis. That got me jazzed to do it,” he said.

In May 2012, Robinson proceeded with FridgeWize to make $7,500 in upgrades, which included new anti-sweat heater controls for the refrigerator cases and 11 new evaporative cooler (EC) motors and fan controls for the store’s two large refrigeration units. CLEER assisted Robinson in seeking a $2,000 rebate from Glenwood Springs Electric.

The EC motors are two-stage fans that run at two different speeds while moving cold air through the coolers.

“The fans we used to have ran full bore all the time at 100 percent. They were loud and hot and heavy, and ran and ran and ran,” Robinson said, while walking into the employee entrance to what he calls “Cooler 1.” The temperature is steady and the fans notch down to the lower-rpm phase while he chats in the cooler.

Robinson notes — in a normal tone of voice — the muskmelon-sized replacement fans and how quietly they run. He’s learned since from FridgeWize about fans with a new blade design that run even more efficiently. He’s considering the new product, although he’s waiting for field tests to show how much better they are.

“I haven’t decided if I’m going to go that route. But they got me on the first ones; these ones work,” Robinson said.

Roaring Fork Liquors upgrades

Refrigeration upgrades
• Anti-sweat heater controls for refrigerator cases
• Evaporative cool motors and fan controls in the refrigeration units

Lighting upgrades
• Replace 24 250-watt metal halide lamps with 100-watt LED flood lamps
• Replace refrigerator cooler lights with LEDs
• Replace old fluorescents in office with T8 fluorescents

Timeline of projects & energy usage

January through June 2012

  • Usage: 62,638 kilowatt-hours

May 2012: Refrigeration upgrades, $7,500

January through June 2013

  • Usage: 53,464
  • Percentage decrease from 2012: 15%

October 2013: Lighting upgrades, $10,320

January through June 2014

  • Usage: 36,333
  • Percentage decrease from 2013: 32%

Cumulative percentage decrease from both projects, comparing January through June 2012 to 2014: 42%

Although it’s a smaller part of the refrigeration upgrades, the anti-sweat controls have helped to further cut down on energy consumption. Prior to the upgrades, he had a unit that ran 24/7 to keep moisture off the glass doors that house the beer on the customer side of the coolers. With usually low humidity in Colorado, the constant anti-sweat controls are not necessary and “suck a lot of power,” according to Robinson. Now the system kicks on only if needed.

The refrigeration upgrades delivered a 15 percent reduction in the store’s energy consumption, comparing January-to-June of 2012 to the same six-month period in 2013.

“People like to shop in well-lit spaces”

Robinson was co-owner of the Roaring Fork General Store (now the Aspen Quick Mart), followed by management positions at Carbondale Vineyard for six years and Mr. C’s for three years. He purchased Roaring Fork Liquors with his friend, Bob Jenkins, in August 2000. Robinson knows retail and knows what customers like.

“The idea is that people like to shop in well-lit spaces, with easy-to-navigate, wide aisles,” he said.

Robinson had already done some remodeling of the interior of Roaring Fork Liquors to create a more suitable ambiance; he raised the dropped ceilings and repainted throughout. But the store was still using metal halide lights, which were plenty bright and very energy-intensive.

So after having made refrigeration upgrades in 2012, Robinson started considering a lighting upgrade in 2013. Again, he called on CLEER energy coaches to help field bids from contractors and make sure the replacement lighting would do the job.

CLEER’s coaches assisted him in evaluating three lighting bids, and Robinson visited other Glenwood Springs businesses to see their LED lighting upgrades. In October 2013, Robinson hired Wahl Electric Inc. of Silt to go forward with the upgrades.

Roaring Fork Liquors

The $10,320 lighting project qualified for a $1,500 rebate from Garfield Clean Energy Better Buildings Grant Funding, $1,000 from Glenwood Springs Electric, and a $2,500 commercial rebate from Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE). The rebates, $5,000 altogether, paid for a bit less than half of the project cost.

“I did the math, the numbers on it, and I came up with 2.78 years on my return on investment, and to be totally honest, I think it’s going to be more like a year and a half,” Robinson said. “Originally, just looking at kilowatt hours saved, you couldn’t say no. It was like, ‘Really — my power usage will go down by 25 percent at least?’”

The job included bypassing the existing ballast and changing out 24 250-watt metal halide lamps on the retail floor and replacing them with 100-watt LED flood lamps. Wahl Electric replaced lighting in the coolers with LEDs and swapped out the old T12 fluorescents in Robinson’s office with T8s.

So far, the energy reduction has overtopped the projections. The store’s electric usage decreased another 32 percent, comparing January-to-June of 2013 to the same six-month period in 2014.

Roaring Fork Liquors is an excellent example of how multiple energy measures add up to much bigger energy savings, according to CLEER Energy Coach Shelley Kaup. “Ken Robinson has taken great interest and educated himself on the projects, and he is achieving great savings for his business.”

Robinson also recognizes that he will not have to replace the LEDs for five years, resulting in even further savings compared to maintaining the old 250-watt lights. He estimated that would cost him $7,200 every five years.

Ken Robinson's advice
for other business owners

  • Inform yourself by studying your energy bills carefully
  • Do your own math; double-check the numbers
  • Visit and talk with other business owners who have made similar upgrades
  • Consider maintenance costs in all scenarios
  • Hire local contractors

“When you’re doing a cost-benefit analysis, you also have to take maintenance costs into consideration,” he advised.

Robinson thinks the lights look “pretty slick,” with their spaceship-like shape and individual cooling fans in each unit. And he’s pleased with the energy savings, the five-year guarantee and the brightness.

“They look pretty good. They look pretty bright to me,” Robinson said. “I was concerned they weren’t going to be bright enough, but turns out I don’t have to worry about that.”

In a shop that is open seven days a week (9 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays) the net result of all of the energy efficient upgrades is significant. The savings are turning out better than the estimates.

The refrigeration upgrades have been in place for more than two years and the LED lights for nearly one year, and the store’s total power usage, from 2012 compared to 2014, has dropped by 42 percent reduction.

“We’re talking about some pretty hefty decreases,” Robinson said.

For a savvy business owner whose motto is “I’m from Missouri, show me,” the case for energy efficient upgrades was made and matched.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Robinson said.

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Carbondale businesses can get $8,000 for energy efficiency projects

Funds can be applied to existing buildings or new construction

Town of CarbondaleExisting businesses and new commercial buildings going up this year in Carbondale can apply for grants of up to $8,000 to help pay for measures that improve energy efficiency. The Town of Carbondale is offering a total of $40,000 to fund at least five grants. Projects must be completed in 2014.

“We’re looking for energy upgrades that will reduce overall use of natural gas and electricity by at least 20 percent,” said CLEER Energy Coach Maisa Metcalf.

“If business owners already have an innovative energy efficiency project in mind, now is the time to move forward. This grant offer is a great deal because it can be combined with other rebates to cover up to 70 percent of the project costs,” Metcalf added.

For new construction, the grant can be applied toward energy modeling to meet the town’s new commercial green building code, for projects that go beyond the code in energy savings, or for commissioning completed projects.

“The new commercial green building code can significantly cut energy use in new buildings, but it will likely cost more to meet the code,” said Erica Sparhawk, program manager for CLEER. “These grants from the town government will assist builders in meeting the code, and can be looked at as an economic development incentive.”

The Town of Carbondale is also offering a free Energy Smart home assessment, valued at $400, for 12 homes purchased in Carbondale this year.

The Town of Carbondale is also offering a free Energy Smart home assessment, valued at $400, for 12 homes purchased in Carbondale this year.

To learn more about the Carbondale Commercial Green Grant, click here.

To learn more about the free energy assessment for Carbondale home buyers, click here, or contact CLEER at (970) 704-9200 or

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DOE announces new furnace fan efficiency standard

The U.S. Department of Energy announced a new energy efficiency standard for furnace fans on June 25. It’s  the latest of eight finalized standards and nine proposed standards issued since President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan last year.

Furnace fans are used to circulate air through ductwork in home heating and cooling equipment. Last year, approximately 3 million furnace fans were shipped in the United States.

A standard fan for a 70,000-Btu-per-hour furnace consumes about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year. This standard could reduce that energy use by 46 percent. The new standard will also help reduce carbon pollution by up to 34 million metric tons — equivalent to the annual electricity use of 4.7 million homes — and save U.S. residents more than $9 billion in home electricity bills through 2030.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration, the Energy Department has finalized new efficiency standards for more than 30 household and commercial products, including dishwashers, refrigerators, and water heaters, estimated to save consumers more than $450 billion through 2030.

Read more here.

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In this issue

Colorado offers $60 million in incentives for electric, CNG vehicles and fueling

Parachute’s solar flowers power
electric vehicle charging

Double efficiency upgrades yield 42% electrical savings for Roaring Fork Liquors

Carbondale businesses can get $8,000 for energy efficiency projects

DOE announces new furnace fan efficiency standard


In the news

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Clean Energy Economy News

Clean Energy Economy News accepts news, events and training information related to clean energy and sustainability for monthly publication. Send your items to Editor Heather McGregor at


E&E TV The Cutting Edge

EPA hosts Denver hearings on Clean Power Plan

EPA will host hearings today and Wednesday in Denver on the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.
ClimateWire reporter Nathaniel Massey previews the hearings in a 4.5-minute interview on E&E TV.


Two free lectures:
‘Has global warming stopped?’ and ‘Coral reefs and climate change’

The Aspen Global Change Institute and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies present two free public lectures in August by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Dr. Gerald Meehl
Has global warming stopped? Understanding the ups and downs of climate in a changing world
6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5

Dr. Joanie Kleypas
Coral reefs and climate change: an ecosystem meets its match
6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19

Both lectures at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies at Hallam Lake, 100 Puppy Smith St., Aspen. A wine and cheese reception will follow each talk.



Glenwood Springs Post Independent,
July 12, 2014
Roof project helps
Methodist Church go green

There’s more than meets the eye with a major roof replacement project under way at the First United Methodist Church of Glenwood Springs that’s expected to be completed early next month.

In addition to removing several layers of asphalt and wood shingles to make way for new composition-type shingles, the church also is investing in several energy efficiency upgrades.

That includes new insulation panels on the steep-pitched sanctuary roof and an 11.6-kilowatt solar electric array on the south-facing side of the roof.

Read the whole story.

Glenwood Springs Post Independent,
July 20, 2014
New clinic fits Valley View
to Carbondale

Roaring Fork Family Practice moves into a beautiful new space today, a triumph for both clinic owner Valley View Hospital and a town that emphasizes community and environmental consciousness.
The clinic is the first major public building constructed after Carbondale adopted a version of the International Green Construction Code. Since June 2013, new commercial buildings and major commercial renovations in town are subject to the code, albeit with some revisions.

Read the whole story.

Rifle Citizen Telegram, July 18, 2014
Rifle city buildings reach
‘net zero’ electrical goal

The City of Rifle produced enough power through its seven solar arrays to reach a net zero status for its electricity needs, an official with Garfield Clean Energy recently told City Council.

In an annual report to the council, Shelley Kaup said seven city facilities are monitored by the online Energy Navigator system, allowing Garfield Clean Energy to track solar production, energy usage, energy spending and carbon dioxide emissions.

Read the whole story.

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel,
June 29, 2014
Solar project nears completion

Construction has begun on a solar array project at 2930 D 1/4 Road expected to generate $5.3 million in energy savings over two decades for its local subscribers.
California-based solar energy development firm Ecoplexus is building the solar array using local contractors on 10 acres of School District 51 land in Pear Park.

Subscribers to the project will pay their monthly subscription fees by passing credits from Xcel’s Solar*Rewards program back to Fresh Air Energy VIII, another name for Ecoplexus, and receive reduced energy rates in return.

Read the whole story.


Denver Business Journal, July 15, 2014
Colorado energy bills are
the cheapest in nation,
report says

Monthly energy bills for Colorado residents are the lowest in the nation, according to a study by WalletHub, a consumer focused website.

The new study looked at three areas: electricity, natural gas and monthly fuel consumption.

Colorado ranks No. 1 for the cheapest monthly energy cost of $301, followed by Washington state at $302 and Montana at $305.

Read the whole story.

New York Times, July 17, 2014
Without Much Straining, Minnesota Reins In Its Utilities’ Carbon Emissions

While other states and critics of the Obama administration have howled about complying with its proposed rule slashing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, Minnesota has been reining in its utilities’ carbon pollution for decades — not painlessly, but without breaking much of a sweat, either.

Today, energy consumption is growing more slowly than Minnesota’s robust economy, and greenhouse-gas emissions have basically been level since 2000. And some legislators have begun dreaming big.

Last year, the Legislature approved another clean-energy measure: a study of the prospects for making Minnesota’s economy carbon-free, from the power-hungry wheat and sugar beet fields in the west to Minneapolis-St. Paul’s car-clogged freeways in the east.

“There was some rolling of eyes,” said state Sen. John. Marty, the measure’s sponsor, “but it passed. The states that are going to have the best economies are the ones that are planning ahead.”

Read the whole story.