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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

Feb. 3, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 1

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Silt solar array ribbon cutting

Silt Mayor Rick Aluise, center, cuts a ribbon on the new solar array, along with Silt Trustees Aron Diaz and Sonny Fernandez, at right. At left are system owner DJ Alemayehu of Samuel Engineering and Katharine Rushton, project manager for Sunsense Solar.
Photo by Kelley Cox

Silt water plant scores a solar win

Solar array installed using private capital, delivers immediate savings

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Under a sunny blue sky at midday on Jan. 22, Silt Mayor Rick Aluise wielded giant scissors to cut a ribbon for the new solar array at the town’s water treatment plant.

The 756 solar panels mounted on seven rows of steel racks will produce 234 kilowatts to supply 100 percent of the plant’s electricity needs on an annual basis.

“It’s the fruit of a long process,” said Aluise, “and quite a partnership between private enterprise, the town government and Garfield Clean Energy. It’s an example of how alternative energy is very beneficial.”

“This is a win-win-win for everybody,” said Katharine Rushton, project manager for Sunsense Solar, the Carbondale installation company that planned and built the array.

Nine months earlier, Aluise and a team of Silt town staff attended a workshop in Rifle hosted by Garfield Clean Energy. It was aimed at informing local governments in western Garfield County about how to get big solar energy systems installed with minimal upfront costs.

Silt leaders acted on the opportunity, working with Sunsense to secure renewable energy credits from Xcel Energy. The project financing was arranged by Sunforce Solutions International of San Francisco, and the array is owned by Samuel Engineering of Greenwood Village.

“We are delighted to help the town achieve lower energy costs,” said Philipp Herzog, CEO of Sunforce Solutions.

“We are now the official owner,” said DJ Alemayehu, director of strategic ventures for Samuel Engineering. “We own several other power generation assets, and we understand these systems. We hope to do more projects in this area.”

Next up for the partners will be an array almost twice as big as Silt’s to power a water treatment plant for Battlement Mesa, followed by another array at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.

Scott Ely, owner of Sunsense, said the Silt project also involved three local subcontractors along with his crew of solar installers.

“We were able to utilize a lot of local labor. Solar energy is creating local jobs and keeping dollars here in the Colorado River Valley,” Ely said.

The Silt array is already powering 85 percent of the water plant’s electric needs, even during these short January days, said Mike Ogburn, energy engineer for CLEER, which manages Garfield Clean Energy.

The daytime production of energy is more than enough to handle brief spikes in energy use when the plant’s heavy-duty pumps cycle on, Ogburn said. That will avoid a costly demand charge on the plant’s electric bill, saving hundreds of dollars, he said.

Jack Castle, utilities manager for the town of Silt, watched the project get built in November and December, and said the crew “did a great job.”

“Our water treatment plant was built about 10 years ago, Castle said, “and it’s a state-of-the-art, reverse osmosis treatment system. It’s going to be a plus to have a good source of energy on top of that.”

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Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators Roundtable

Wastewater treatment plant operators from throughout Garfield County met on Nov. 19, 2014, for an annual roundtable session to discuss energy saving measures at their plants.
Photo by Mike Ogburn

Garfield Clean Energy drives big results in 2014

Upgrades at 136 homes and businesses expected to yield
$106,000 in annual energy savings

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

In 2014, Garfield Clean Energy helped 78 households and 58 businesses across Garfield County make energy upgrades that are estimated to save $106,000 per year in energy costs for years to come.

“Our goal for the year was 55 households and 50 businesses. We are pleased we could top those goals,” said Erica Sparhawk, program manager for CLEER, which delivers services for Garfield Clean Energy.

“Through the year, Garfield Clean Energy provided free energy coaching for 285 households and businesses.

“Our energy coaches also conducted free building walk-throughs at 49 businesses. Of these, 42 were motivated to start a project within the year. That’s an 85 percent success rate,” Sparhawk said.

Garfield Clean Energy’s Residential Revolving Loan Fund granted 13 new loans for the year, bringing the total number to 21 households. They are using the fund to pay for energy improvements, using the energy savings to cover the monthly loan payment.

Energy coaches also continued working with staff of Garfield Clean Energy’s 10 member governments to make building upgrades and operational adjustments that are saving taxpayer dollars.

“This is a very clear path to energy savings in government buildings that are meaningful in the long term,” said Allyn Harvey, the 2014 chairman of GCE and a Carbondale trustee. “These projects also support employment and put more money in consumers’ pockets.”

Garfield Clean Energy hosted roundtable trainings for facility managers and wastewater treatment plant operators, and hosted the Bike and Walk to School Challenge and the Electric Vehicle Rally of the Rockies.

The Garfield Clean Energy website tallied more than 15,000 unique visits in 2014, and the overall program was covered in 60 stories in newspapers, radio and television.

For 2015, Garfield Clean Energy is planning to calculate the ENERGY STAR ratings of selected government buildings, and will be working with the real estate community to build awareness of the value of energy efficiency improvements for properties on the market.

At the Jan. 14 Garfield Clean Energy board meeting, board members elected Stuart McArthur, Parachute town administrator, as chair; Allyn Harvey as vice chair; Rachel Pokrandt, CMC Rifle Campus dean, as secretary; and re-elected Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky as treasurer.

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CLEER Energy Coaches

CLEER Energy Coaches Shelley Kaup, Matthew Shmigelsky and Maisa Metcalf will be visiting homes to determine energy-saving opportunities.
Photo by Heather McGregor

Free home energy upgrades offered
for qualified families, seniors

2015 Home Energy Program to help 57 families

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Garfield Clean Energy, the Town of Carbondale and CLEER will provide home energy visits and free energy efficiency upgrades to 57 income-qualified households in Garfield County through the 2015 Home Energy Program.

“This program is for households with incomes that are just a bit too high to qualify for the region’s other free weatherization program,” said Erica Sparhawk, program director for CLEER, which manages Garfield Clean Energy.

“We know many of these families, couples, singles and seniors are still struggling to pay utility bills, especially in winter. This program will help reduce their bills and make their homes more safe and comfortable,” Sparhawk said.

CLEER’s energy coaches will begin contacting households in neighborhoods from Parachute to Carbondale in the coming weeks to schedule home visits.

2015 Home Energy Program

Income qualification
80 percent of area median income for Garfield County

Family size and income range

1 person, up to $41,400
2 people, up to $47,300
3 people, up to $53,200
4 people, up to $59,100
5 people, up to $63,850
6 people, up to $68,600
7 people, up to $73,300
8 people, up to $78,050

Households can be tenants or homeowners, and can be families, couples, singles or seniors.

Homes can be single-family, condos, apartments or mobile homes.

If you or someone you know could be eligible, contact CLEER for more information: (970) 704-9200 or


“Our bilingual team of certified energy coaches will visit the home, spending about an hour evaluating the home for the most needed energy efficiency upgrades. After the visit, the energy coaches will coordinate with local contractors to carry out the upgrades,” Sparhawk said.

Depending on the needs of the home, energy upgrades could include furnace or boiler tune-up and safety check, insulation and air sealing, high-efficiency refrigerator, high-efficiency water heater, CFL light bulbs, storm windows, programmable thermostat and low-flow showerheads.

“Households won’t have to pay for any of these improvements,” Sparhawk said.

The home energy visits and energy upgrades are being paid for through a grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, by funding from the Town of Carbondale’s Clean Energy 2020 program, and by the energy utilities serving Garfield County: Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and SourceGas.

For rental housing, landlords will be asked to pay for up to 50 percent of the upgrades, Sparhawk noted.

Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC), the statewide nonprofit that helps low-income families and seniors pay energy bills, will handle the paperwork to make sure households qualify for the program.

“These energy efficiency upgrades mean these families and seniors are going to save on their utility costs, and that will trickle down to decisions about what food and medications they can afford,” said Luke Ilderton, director of energy efficiency programs for EOC.

“The upgrades will also make their home healthier and safer, giving them a more comfortable living environment,” he added.

Because the Garfield County program will leverage funding from energy utilities, it can help many more families, Ilderton said.

Already, Energy Outreach Colorado has a list of more than 400 families and seniors in Garfield County that would qualify for the program, Sparhawk said.

“We see a great need for helping low-income families and seniors reduce their utility costs. Energy efficiency upgrades are the best way to meet that need,” Sparhawk said. “We hope to find additional funding for this effort, because we will be meeting just a small portion of the need in 2015.”

In Pitkin County, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) offers a similar program to help low-income residents.

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Realtors to learn value of energy efficiency

Financing for efficiency upgrades focus of February classes
in Glenwood Springs, Aspen

The Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors, the Colorado Energy Office and Garfield Clean Energy are presenting the second in a series of three classes to help real estate professionals tap the power of energy efficiency in home sales.

The Feb. 11 class for members of the association will focus on financing options that can help buyers and sellers make energy efficiency upgrades to homes. It follows an introductory class held Oct. 14.

James Mitchell, CEO of Renewablue, a Fort Collins real estate firm, will explain how Realtors can help their clients understand the value of home energy efficiency, and how to use home loan programs to finance efficiency upgrades.

The class, “Leveraging the Colorado Energy Savings Mortgage Incentive and Other State and Local Resources at Time of Sale," will give Realtors and lenders an understanding of the mortgage incentives available from the Colorado Energy Office, Fannie Mae, the FHA and the VA. It will explain how to take advantage of rebates and mortgage incentives to upgrade a home's energy performance at time of sale.

The course will also outline how Realtors and lenders can tap into Garfield Clean Energy and EnergySmart Colorado for energy coaching, home energy assessments and utility rebates.

Also presenting will be Shelley Kaup, a CLEER Energy Coach and home energy efficiency expert. Kaup will share information on local rebates available for upgrades, local financing options and Garfield Clean Energy’s Green MLS program.

“We have two goals: making energy efficiency upgrades to homes when they go on the market, and helping real estate professionals use energy efficiency as a selling point,” said Kaup. “We know that efficiency upgrades can reduce utility bills and increase home comfort and safety. This course will highlight the tools available to translate energy savings into loan value at time of sale.”

Mitchell will repeat the presentation at from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, at the Rio Grande Room, 455 Rio Grande Place in Aspen, in a free, public event hosted by CORE, City of Aspen and Holy Cross Energy.

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Colorado State Capitol Building

Colorado Legislators attempt to roll back
renewable energy standards

Bills propose tax credits for home energy efficiency, clean energy R & D

Bills tampering with Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standards, boosting development of wind energy, creating a new tax credit for home energy efficiency, modernizing the electric grid, and responding to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan are among the clean energy topics moving through the Colorado Legislature.

CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy are tracking bills related to clean energy on the website. In the first month of the session, legislators have introduced 14 clean energy bills. Of these, two were killed in committee and two have passed from committees for a floor vote.

Renewable energy standards
SB 44: Lowers the renewable energy standard for investor-owned utilities from 30% by 2020 to 15%, and lowers the standard for rural electric co-ops from 20% by 2020 to 15%. Set for vote on Senate floor.

SB 46: Allows rural electric co-ops to count distributed renewable energy systems installed within their service area at three times their actual generation capacity, in order to meet the Colorado Renewable Energy Standard. The bill includes on-site systems and customer purchases from solar gardens.

HB 1118: Adds hydroelectricity projects of any size, including projects with pumped water, to the list of projects eligible for meeting Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard.

Wind energy
HB 1121: Clarifying wind energy lease agreements between landowners and wind energy developers by requiring leases to be recorded and setting a 15-year term for the project to be developed or the lease will expire. Set for vote on House floor.

SB 63: Expands the 2007 Wind for Schools program with grants of up to $15,000 for school projects, and allows grant funding to be used for any type of alternative energy project. Schools seeking the grant must also improve their energy efficiency.The bill does not identify a funding source or set a total cap on the grant program

Renewable energy R & D
HB 1180: Creates a refund for sales and use taxes paid by qualified Colorado companies for tangible personal property used in research and development of clean energy technology, for tax years 2015 through 2019. Qualified companies may employ up to 35 people and must be based in Colorado. HB 1180 also applies to R&D in the medical technology field.

Energy efficiency
HB 1132: Creates an income tax credit of $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the level of energy savings, for home energy efficiency upgrades. Residents must obtain a home energy audit prior to making improvements, a post improvement inspection to determine the energy savings, and obtain a credit certificate from the Colorado Energy Office. The tax credit amount may be reduced if utility rebates or other incentives helped pay for the upgrades.

Active transportation
HB 1003: Provides up to $3 million in state funding Funding for the Safe Routes to School program for the 2015-16 fiscal year, and specifies that 20 to 30% of the funds be used for non-infrastructure programs.

Vehicle efficiency
SB 134: Clarifies details on fuel cost-saving contracts for government fleets, stating that payments for contracts do not use funds that would otherwise be allocated for vehicle purchases, operations or maintenance. The bill also clarifies that total contract payments should be equal to or less than the vehicle life cycle costs during the whole term of the contract.

Water efficiency
HB 1093: Repeals a prohibition enacted in 2014 that would bar the sales of efficient plumbing fixtures, such as toilets, urinals, showerheads and lavatory faucets, that do not meet water-efficiency standards. The new standards will otherwise take effect on Sept. 1, 2016.

Carbon emissions
SB 92: Under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is required to formally adopt a state plan for the reduction of carbon emissions from utilities in Colorado. SB 92 requires that the plan first be reviewed and approved by the Public Utilities Commission, that it impose no more than a 2% rate increase on utility customers, that it be approved by a two-thirds majority of the state House and Senate, and finally, be subject to annual review by affected utilities.

Energy utilities
SB 120: Requires all retail electric providers to develop a 10-year grid modernization plan that will optimize demand-side and supply-side management, implement advanced metering, and increase grid reliability through integration of distributed electric generation.

Bills killed in committee

Woody biomass
SB 9: Proposed a five-year, $5 million grant program for public entities to install woody biomass-fueled heating systems in public buildings. Killed in Senate committee one week after introduction.

Active transportation
SB 81: Expressed legislative intent for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife and local governments to spend some of their lottery proceeds to build or expand recreational bicycle trails along state highways, county roads, and city streets. Killed in Senate committee Jan. 29.

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In this issue

Silt water plant scores a solar win

Garfield Clean Energy drives $950,000
in projects in 2014

Free home energy upgrades offered
for qualified families, seniors

Realtors to learn value of energy efficiency in home sales

Legislators attempt to roll back
renewable energy standards


Johannes Loschnigg: The Politics of Climate Change in Washington, D.C.

Register for CSU Colorado Energy Master courses

EnergySmart Colorado Expo

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


Johannes Loschnigg
The Politics of Climate Change
in Washington, D.C.
Debates about the science
Confusion about the impacts
Ideological battles

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Third Street Center, Calaway Room, Carbondale

Johannes Loschnigg, former senior policy analyst for the White House and the U.S. Congress during the last decade, has been closely involved in the debates about the science of climate change, and the need to reduce carbon emissions and shift to cleaner sources of energy.

Congressional action has been slower than many would prefer, often because of misinformation regarding the science of climate change and confusion about the projected impacts.

Loschnigg will provide an overview of this debate, discuss the issue’s deeper ideological underpinnings, and give an assessment of current and future action for reducing emissions.


Save the Date

EnergySmart Colorado Expo
A workshop and trade show for contractors, architects and builders

8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 2
Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs
Admission $15, includes light breakfast and lunch buffet


Register today for CSU Colorado Energy Master courses

Registration for the three-part Colorado Energy Master program offered by Colorado State University Extension is open through Feb. 10. The classes run from Feb. 17 through March 28, using online webinars and field trips.

Comparable to CSU’s Master Gardener program, the Energy Master series offers 30 hours of education on energy policy, renewable energy opportunities, transportation alternatives, climate change, and home energy efficiency. Classes are taught by CSU professors, CSU Extension agents and industry professionals.

Participants seeking an Energy Master certification, which is optional, must complete all coursework and an energy-related project of their choice in their community. Continuing education units through the program are also available for real estate professionals, and graduate credits are available for teachers.  

Each of the three courses in the program costs $65 for regular registrants or $35 for aspiring Colorado Energy Masters, students, or teachers. Discounts are available for those registering for the entire program.  

For more information and to register, visit


American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Dec. 22, 2014
Congress extends energy efficiency tax incentives to cover 2014 projects

The tax extenders package passed by Congress in December includes provisions for energy-efficient commercial buildings, new homes, and residential energy-efficiency retrofits such as heating, cooling and water heating systems, insulation, and windows. The new provision covers projects done through Dec. 31, 2014, allowing these credits to be claimed for the 2014 tax year.
More info at


Denver Business Journal, Dec. 23, 2014

Electric cars a win for the Colorado environment, supporters say

Cars that use electricity generated by natural gas, wind, water or solar power reduced environmental health impacts by at least 50 percent compared to gasoline.


Los Angeles Times, Jan. 5, 2015

California governor seeks new green regulations

By 2030, California Gov. Jerry Brown wants California to derive 50% of its electricity from renewable sources, up from the goal of 33% by 2020. He also wants to double the energy efficiency of existing buildings and reduce by half the use of petroleum by cars and trucks.


Bloomberg New Energy Finance,
Jan. 5, 2015

Global Clean Energy Investment Jumps 16% in 2014, Shaking Off Oil’s Drop

Worldwide clean energy investment grew by 16% to $310 billion in 2014, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The new funding was for wind, solar, biofuels, and other low-carbon energy technologies. Overall, it was the first growth since 2011, according to the industry report.

In the United States, investors boosted U.S. annual funding 8% to nearly $52 billion, the most since 2012. China was the biggest single contributor among the major markets for renewable energy, increasing its investment to $89.5 billion, a 32% expansion over the previous year. Japan, which has become the second-biggest market for solar power, boosted funding for renewables 12% to $41 billion.

In terms of energy sectors, solar surged 25% to $149 billion in 2014, its highest-ever share of the total. Global funding for the wind energy industry grew 11% to a record $99 billion. The study also noted that investments flowed into the electric car industry, especially for Tesla Motors Inc.


EIA oil price projections

TODAY IN ENERGY: Jan. 14, 2015

Market expectations of oil price uncertainty have increased
in recent months

December was the sixth consecutive month of falling oil prices, declining to a monthly average of $62 a barrel, the lowest since May 2009. The price decline reflects continued growth in U.S. tight oil production, strong global supply, and weakening outlooks for the global economy and oil demand growth.


Telluride News, Jan. 18, 2015

Colorado awarded $1.8 million USDA grant for agricultural hydropower projects

A Telluride hydroelectric advocacy organization said a $1.8 million grant was awarded Jan. 15 to the Colorado Department of Agriculture by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support the development of agricultural hydropower projects in the state. The Colorado Small Hydro Association said the grant will be important in stemming energy costs for area farmers.


New York Times, Jan. 31, 2015

Climate Change’s Bottom Line

It was 8 degrees in Minneapolis on a recent January day, and out on Interstate 394, snow whipped against the windshields of drivers on their morning commutes. But inside the offices of Cargill, the food conglomerate, Greg Page, the company’s executive chairman, felt compelled to talk about global warming.

“It would be irresponsible not to contemplate it,” Mr. Page said, bundled up in a wool sport coat layered over a zip-up sweater. “I’m 63 years old, and I’ve grown up in the upper latitudes. I’ve seen too much change to presume we might not get more.”