Email CLEER   970.704.9200
Clean Energy Economy for the Region

March 19, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 3

< Back to newsletter index

2015 Energy Smart Contractor Expo

Energy Smart Contractor ExpoWorkshops and vendor booths
show latest trends
in technologies and techniques

Building and mechanical contractors, architects, real estate professionals, property managers, and materials suppliers can learn about the latest trends in energy efficiency at the 2015 Energy Smart Contractor Expo, set for April 2 in Glenwood Springs.

The half-day event will feature booths hosted by suppliers and installers showing energy efficiency and renewable energy products, and by energy utilities explaining their incentives programs.

In addition to the expo, there will be eight 30-minute workshops that participants can attend. The expo also includes plenty of break time for visiting the booths and networking.

The Expo is set for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs. An early bird special price of $10 is good through March 19, and covers the workshops, breakfast and lunch. (Use promotional code “2015Expo”) Tickets purchased March 20 or later will be $17.

Click here to register now.

“We are offering a great line-up of workshops led by experts about health and safety, energy efficiency, and renewable energy,” said CLEER Energy Coach Maisa Metcalf. The workshop presenters and their topics are:

  • Matt Thesing, One Source Lighting: 7 Things You Need to Know About LEDs Before Making a Purchase
  • Max Rohr, Shamrock Sales: How to Get HVAC Equipment Working at Peak Performance
  • Steve Haines, Sunsense Solar: When Solar Makes Sense
  • Tony Haschke, SGM: Getting Automation Controls Under Control
  • Rob Hartop, Stanton Engineering: Radon Mitigation and How You Can Save Lives
  • Mark Attard, A&E Building Systems: The Trials and Pitfalls of a Deep Energy Retrofit
  • Mike Tierney, Aspen Solar: Heating with Solar Thermal
  • Tony Haschke, SGM: Heat Pumps and Geothermal

The Energy Smart Contractor Expo is hosted by Garfield Clean Energy, CLEER, Energy Smart Colorado and CORE.

Energy Smart Contractor Expo hosts

Vendor booths will be hosted by:
About Saving Heat • A&E Building Systems • All-Phase Electric Supply Co. • Atlasta Solar Center Brite Ideas • City of Aspen Utilities • CleaResult • Eco Source Lighting • Franklin Energy • Fridgewize Green-tech Refrigeration • Holy Cross Energy • Alpine Ice Solutions • AROS Solutions
Mesa Point Energy • One Source Lighting • Quality Solar • Shamrock Sales • SourceGas
Stanton Engineering Solutions Inc. • SteamMaster • Sunsense Solar
Xcel Energy • Zehnder America

Energy Smart Contractor Expo sponsors

< Back to top

Regional Roundtable for Energy Efficiency
and Economic Development

Garfield Clean Energy, CLEER, CORE and Energy Smart Colorado
host tri-county discussion

Policy makers and civic leaders are invited to attend a regional roundtable discussion on clean energy as an economic development tool in the Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle county area.

The Regional Roundtable is set for 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs. Former Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen will moderate.

The 90-minute discussion will focus on:

  • What’s working in today’s clean energy programs?
  • How can we achieve stronger results, environmental benefits and economies of scale through more regional collaboration?
  • What does the future look like?

The April 2 Regional Roundtable is a prelude to a full-day conference on this topic being planned for June 12 in Carbondale.

The April 2 Regional Roundtable is the same day and location as the Energy Smart Contractor Expo, a vendor expo and workshop for building and mechanical contractors, architects, property managers and real estate professionals. More than 25 booths will feature new products for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Leaders attending the Regional Roundtable are invited to arrive at 12 p.m. to join their constituents in the business community for lunch, and then stay for the Roundtable.

The lunch hour offers a chance to network with contractors and hear first hand about the economic activity that’s happening as more households and businesses seek out energy efficiency upgrades. Roundtable participants are also welcome to arrive before noon to visit the vendor booths.

Thursday, April 2
: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Lunch: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.,
Regional Roundtable: 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Register for lunch and the Regional Roundtable
$10 through March 23; $17 March 24 and after
Click here to register online / or call CLEER at 704-9200

Register for the Regional Roundtable only
No cost, but we’d like to have a seat waiting for you
Click here to register online / or call CLEER at 704-9200

The Regional Roundtable is organized and hosted by

Energy Smart Contractor Expo hosts

< Back to top

LED fixtures put Rifle Creek Museum in a new light

Replacement of old ceiling lights brightens museum’s collections

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

The aging fluorescent tube lighting in the Rifle Creek Museum was almost old enough to be an artifact itself, says Rifle City Councilman Rich Carter with a smile.

Rifle Creek Museum

Rich Carter, left, and Cecil Waldron, board members of the Rifle Creek Museum, look at some of the artifacts in the “country store” section of the museum. New LED lighting makes the details of the display very easy to see, and will save the museum money on its electric bill.
Photo by Kelley Cox

Rifle Creek Museum

Cecil Waldron stands in the large upstairs room at the Rifle Creek Museum prior to the replacement of lighting fixtures. The old lights were "pinkish, bluish and white,” he said, and did a poor job of lighting the space.
Photo by Matthew Shmigelsky

Rifle Creek Museum

Garfield Clean Energy board member Barb Clifton, right, presents a rebate check for $2,500 to Cecil Waldron, center, president of the Rifle Creek Museum, and Rich Carter, left, Rifle City Council liaison to the museum. The rebate will help pay for the recent LED lighting upgrade throughout the museum. Clifton is Rifle City Council’s member on the Garfield Clean Energy board.
Photo by Kelley Cox

“It used to be brown and dark in here,” Carter said, standing in the foyer of the two-story brick museum at 337 East Ave.

“The lights were pinkish, bluish or white, and a lot of them were burned out,” added Cecil Waldron, president of the Rifle Creek Center for Historical Preservation, which operates the museum. “Some ballasts were burned out, and there were black spots on the ceiling.”

The old dim lighting fixtures, along with their potential as a fire hazard, are now gone, thanks to a determined effort by the museum’s board, energy coaching from Garfield Clean Energy, funding from grants and rebates, and the work of Mark Briels Electric of Rifle.

Over the past month, Briels and his crew swapped out the old lights for 50 new LED fixtures.

Now, evenly bright and uniformly colored LED ceiling fixtures provide a pleasant daylight type of light that illuminates both floors of the museum and its diverse collection of historic items.

“It’s a much better atmosphere for visitors and volunteers alike,” said Waldron. “People used to say, ‘I can see that, but what is it?’ This lighting gives us more of a willingness to work, to get in there and do something.”

“This looks very professional,” said Barb Clifton, Rifle City Council member, when she stepped into the museum.

Clifton is the city’s representative on the board of Garfield Clean Energy, which provided free energy coaching for the project. Energy Coach Matt Shmigelsky helped Carter and Waldron plan out the project for maximum energy savings and rebate funding.

On March 3, Clifton presented a rebate check for $2,500 to Waldron to help pay for the $22,727 project.

This funding came from a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment grant to CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region, which manages Garfield Clean Energy. CLEER used the $40,000 grant over the past year to fund rebates for energy efficiency upgrades done by households and businesses in western Garfield County. The check to the museum was the final payment made from the fund.

Other funding for the museum lighting project includes a $16,515 grant from the Clough Family Foundation, $1,500 from the City of Rifle, and an $800 rebate for energy efficiency from Xcel Energy. The museum board will end up paying just $1,412 for the project

“We are well pleased and proud of the community for helping us out on this,” Waldron said.

In addition to delivering higher quality light, the new LED fixtures and bulbs use far less energy than the old lighting system. In planning the installation, Shmigelsky examined the museum’s electric bills from the previous year. Because there’s no heating in the building, which was the former City Hall, the museum is only open from May 15 to Oct. 15.

Shmigelsky calculated that even though the museum is open for only five months of the year, the switch to LED lighting will save about 3,600 kilowatt-hours per year, valued at $1,220. If the museum were open year-round, the annual savings would be even greater.

On the other hand, the seasonal operation of the museum means these bulbs will last for decades, allowing museum volunteers to focus their efforts on displays rather than climbing ladders to maintain light fixtures..

The combination of electric bill savings and zero maintenance for light fixtures means the museum volunteers can take on the interesting projects that will improve and diversify museum displays, Waldron said.

For example, museum volunteers are part way through a project to digitally scan and transfer to proper archival storage a collection of 4,300 glass plate photo negatives from the portrait studio of Fred and Ola Garrison.

The museum board also wants to install more rotating displays and show off more of its collection, to encourage people to visit more often. The new lighting will help, said Carter.

“Hopefully the people who have been in here before will come back and see things in a different light,” he said.

< Back to top

Legislators propose tax credits for efficiency upgrades

Bills target single-family homes, large commercial
and apartment buildings

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Colorado legislators are working on two bills aimed at creating state tax credits for energy efficiency improvements in homes, multi-family housing and commercial buildings.

House Bill 1132 would establish an income tax credit of $1,000 to $2,000 for single-family homes for the years 2016 through 2018. The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder.

The tax credit amount would be based on energy efficiency, measured in BTUs, achieved through upgrades such as insulation, air sealing, furnace or boiler upgrades, or high-efficiency water heaters. A home energy assessment is required before and after making the upgrades to determine the level of energy savings and the resulting tax credit.

The tax credit would be reduced, however, by any rebates the homeowner receives from their utility. The net tax credit could drop by 50 percent or more, depending on the rebates paid for combination of improvements the homeowner chooses to make.

Colorado Legislative Council’s analysis of the costs of the proposed legislation to state government, prepared March 2, estimates the state would issue credits to 723 property owners per year, based on current participation in Xcel Energy’s home energy efficiency programs. The cost of awarding the tax credits is estimated at $584,000 per year.

The state government would also incur added operational costs. Computer programming needed for the Department of Revenue to administer the tax credit would be a one-time cost of $25,000. The Colorado Energy Office would need an additional half-time staff person to manage the program, costing $43,000 per year.

HB 1132 was passed by the House Transportation and Energy Committee on Feb. 11 and by the House Finance Committee on Feb. 26. It is now awaiting action in the House Appropriations Committee.

Tax credits for new and existing commercial buildings

House Bill 1236 proposes an income tax credit for making energy efficiency improvements to existing large buildings, or for construction of new buildings that meets efficiency standards and reduce energy use by at least 20 percent. The credit would apply to commercial buildings, apartment buildings and affordable housing projects, for projects done in 2016 through 2020.

Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, is proposing a dual approach to the credit, either as a percentage of project costs, or on a square footage basis, with credits rising in dollar value for increasing levels of energy savings. For new buildings, efficiency would be measured using standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Green Building Initiative or the International Energy Conservation Code.

Colorado Legislative Council’s analysis of the costs of the proposed legislation to state government, prepared March 9, estimates the tax credits would cost the state about $1.5 million per year. The council based that figure on the assumption that about 20 existing multi-family projects would use the tax credit each year, as well as 25 to 30 new commercial or multi-family buildings per year.

The analysis notes that most affordable housing projects are owned by tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, so the tax credit would not apply to these owners.

This bill, too, would result in added operational costs to state government. Legislative Council estimates computer programming costs at $60,000 for the first year and $31,000 per year for the remaining term. It also projects the need for one new staff position at the Colorado Energy Office to manage the program, at a cost of $82,000 per year.

HB 1236 passed the House Transportation and Energy Committee on March 5, and is awaiting action in the House Finance Committee.

< Back to top

State House kills two of three bills
that undermine renewable energy

Bill to clarify wind development leases for landowners passes,
sent to governor

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

State legislators have killed two of the three bills that attempt to undermine Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standards. The third bill has passed the Senate, but faces an uncertain future in the House.

Legislators have also introduced six bills that advance renewable energy. Of these, one is awaiting the governor’s signature, one was killed, and four others are moving through legislative committees.

The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs killed House Bill 1118 on Feb. 18 and killed Senate Bill 44 on March 2.

HB 1118 would have added hydroelectric projects of any size, including “pump-back” projects that use more energy than they produce, to the list of projects eligible for meeting Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard. It was killed in a 6-5 committee vote.

SB 44 would have lowered the renewable energy standard for investor-owned utilities from 30% by 2020 to 15%, and lowered the standard for rural electric co-ops from 20% by 2020 to 15%. The bill passed the Senate, but died in the same House committee on a 6-5 vote.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 46, and it has yet to be assigned to a House committee. It would allow 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.

By inflating the capacity of customer-owned renewable energy systems, SB 46 effectively reduces the Renewable Energy Standard for rural electric co-ops by two-thirds.

$5 million woody biomass bill dies quick death, other bills still moving

The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee killed Senate Bill 9, which would have initiated a five-year grant program awarding $1 million per year to local governments or school districts for installing building heating systems powered by woody biomass. This bill died on Jan. 15, just one week after the start of the 2015 session.

Debate continues on other bills friendly to renewable energy.

House Bill 1121 has passed both houses and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. This legislation, sponsored by Eastern Plains legislators Jon Becker and Jerry Sonnenberg, clarifies wind energy lease agreements between landowners and wind energy developers. It requires leases to be recorded at the county courthouse, and sets a 15-year term for wind project to be developed, after which the lease will expire.

Senate Bill 63, sponsored by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, expands the 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.

House Bill 1180 creates a refund for sales and use taxes paid by qualified Colorado companies for personal property used in research and development of clean energy technology, for tax years 2015 through 2019.

House Bill 1219 allows investors to collect Enterprise Zone investment tax credits for renewable energy projects as a refund, at 80% of the full value, instead of stretching the tax credit out for several years.

House Bill 1284 is a new bill that amends Colorado's Community Solar Gardens law to require at least 10 to 25 subscribers for solar gardens, requires subscribers to live in the same county or an adjacent county as the solar garden, and sets new requirements for interconnection fees charged by the electric utility serving the solar garden area.

CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy are tracking 21 bills related to clean energy on the website. To see the full list of bills, click here.

Related: Denver Business Journal, March 2, 2015
Rollback of renewable-energy standards dies in Colorado Legislature

< Back to top

In this issue

2015 Energy Smart Contractor Expo

Regional Roundtable for Energy Efficiency and Economic Development

LED fixtures put Rifle Creek Museum in a new light

Sen. Bennet enlists mortgage lenders, business tenants in saving energy

Legislators propose tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades

State House kills two of three bills that undermine renewable energy

In the news


Subscribe to the Clean Energy Economy News - It's free!

Submit your news and events to
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


Fort Collins Coloradoan, March 4, 2015
Fort Collins boosts goals
for cutting greenhouse gases

The Fort Collins City Council has approved boosting the city's goals for reducing greenhouse emissions in the coming years, with hopes of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Implementing the plan would cost an estimated $600 million by 2020, although savings to the community, such as lower energy bills, could total about $300 million during the same time, according to Lucinda Smith, the city’s environmental sustainability director. By 2050, the plan could result in billions of dollars in savings as well as better community health, she said. Read more.

The Fencepost, Feb. 24, 2015
New name, wider scope for
Colorado State University’s
rural energy mission

A Colorado State University center that focuses on energy usage and conservation in the state’s agricultural sectors is getting a new name and expanding its mission.

The new Rural Energy Center – formerly the Center for Agricultural Energy — will continue to provide agricultural producers with energy audits and recommendations. Now it will also offer energy assessments in communities where economies are not as agriculturally based, starting in Kersey and Buena Vista. Read more.

ACEEE Blog, Feb. 28, 2015
Water heaters get an efficiency makeover courtesy of the Department of Energy

From the rustic 1850s pump shower to the 1920s Humphrey automatic to today's modern units, water heaters have made great strides in performance and efficiency.

On April 16, water heaters will take the next great stride when manufacturers must comply with new U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards.

The most common water heaters manufactured on and after this date will get a modest boost in efficiency, while units larger than 55 gallons will shift to next-generation technology, cutting utility bills by one-fourth to one-half depending on the technology.

Read the ACEEE Blog post / Jump to the DOE info page on water heaters

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives announce
$5 million workforce initiative

SunEdison, Inc. and the SunEdison Foundation announced a $5 million contribution to their philanthropic partnership with GRID Alternatives, launching a two-year initiative to connect the industry's growing demand for skilled solar industry workers with communities that need jobs.

The $5 million contribution, announced Feb. 20, is both financial and in the form of solar panels.

GRID Alternatives has 10 regional offices and affiliates serving California, Colorado, the New York tri-state region, the mid-Atlantic region, and tribal communities nationwide.

Together, the organizations are launching a two-year initiative called RISE to build a more inclusive solar workforce.

The RISE initiative will provide hands-on training and real-world solar installation experience to more than 4,000 people in underserved communities across the country. In addition, the initiative will connect job trainees with solar companies looking for skilled workers.

As part of the initiative, GRID Alternatives will provide 40 individuals with one-year paid fellowships in GRID Alternatives' offices around the country through its SolarCorps program, and SunEdison employees will donate more than 2,000 hours of their time installing solar energy systems for low-income families and supporting job-readiness for trainees.

Sen. Bennet enlists mortgage lenders, business tenants in saving energy

Bipartisan Energy Savings Act includes measures that cut costs
and create jobs

A message to readers of the
Clean Energy Economy News
from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet

As Coloradans find innovative ways to generate energy, we also look for ways to make our use of energy more efficient.

A new bipartisan bill, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, includes two important measures that I worked to develop: the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act and the Better Buildings Act.

The SAVE Act recognizes the value of energy efficiency cost savings when home buyers are seeking a mortgage. The Better Buildings Act calls on business tenants of large buildings to join in the effort to save energy.

I have co-sponsored the Energy Savings Act along with U.S. Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. We introduced the bill last week.

We’re proposing these acts to increase energy efficiency, cut costs and create thousands of jobs.

The SAVE Act helps establish a more practical mortgage lending process by allowing federal mortgage loan agencies, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to consider a home’s energy efficiency and expected monthly energy bills when determining a homeowner’s ability to afford mortgage payments.

On average, homeowners spend about $2,500 a year on home energy costs. That adds up to more than $70,000 over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Mortgage lenders typically take into account the cost of property taxes and homeowner’s insurance when determining the cost of a home loan. But they do not take into account home energy costs, even though these costs are often more than those of taxes and insurance.

The SAVE Act addresses this blind spot, encouraging investments in energy efficient home building and creating tens of thousands of construction jobs in the process. It’s estimated that this bill would generate 83,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in consumer energy bill savings over the next several years.

We are also working to improve energy efficiency in the commercial sector. The Better Buildings Act, cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, encourages tenants of commercial buildings to implement cost-effective measures that will help reduce energy consumption and utility costs.

Building owners across the country are striving to distinguish their buildings with the ENERGY STAR label to help attract tenants and satisfy investors. This bill creates a new voluntary “Tenant Star” certification to reward and recognize tenants that design and construct high-performance leased spaces.

Tenants consume roughly half of the energy used in commercial buildings and this measure will encourage them to use energy efficient technology within their spaces, saving energy and money.

With increasing demands on our energy grid, it’s important that we take steps now to conserve energy and preserve resources for future generations. The SAVE Act and the Better Buildings Act are both common sense proposals that will reduce our energy usage, cut cost for consumers, and protect our planet.

< Back to top