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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

September 15, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 6

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National Drive Electric Week

Garfield Clean Energy and partners host
first-ever EV Ride & Drive in Rifle

Event is part of National Drive Electric Week

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Drivers are invited to get behind the wheel of a plug-in electric car at Rifle’s first-ever electric vehicle ride-and-drive event this Thursday, Sept. 17.

The free event offers motorists a chance to learn about several models of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) and about options for charging at home, at work and at the growing number of public charging stations across the state and country.

Introducing drivers to electric vehicles is part of Garfield Clean Energy’s multi-pronged effort to build energy security and economic resilience through alternative fuels.

Rifle’s EV Ride and Drive is set for 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Rifle City Hall and Rifle Branch Library parking lot. The event is one block from the Rifle Farmer’s Market, open the same evening.

Chevrolet Volt

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford C-Max Energi

Rifle’s ride and drive is one of 167 electric vehicle events happening across the country for National Drive Electric Week, running Sept. 12-20.

Mountain Chevrolet will show two Chevy Volts and Glenwood Springs Ford will show the Ford C-Max Energi, with knowledgeable sales staff offering test drives.

Electric vehicle experts Matt Shmigelsky of Garfield Clean Energy and Zac Sutherland of Garfield County Environmental Health will be on hand to answer questions about vehicle charging, other makes and models on the market, and the attractive state and federal tax credits offered for new plug-in electric vehicles.

Sutherland said EVs are clean burning, producing no tailpipe emissions while running on electricity. And EVs run on Colorado-produced electricity, supporting jobs on the Western Slope, he added.

Stephanie Stocking will show how to access more info about electric cars by using the Rifle Branch Library’s many resources.

“Electric vehicles are the future of passenger car transportation, and the future is here today with vehicles that are on the market now,” said Shmigelsky. Nationwide, there are more than 300,000 plug-in electric vehicles on the road today.

Plug-in electric cars that are all-electric have a range of 75 to 200 miles, Shmigelsky said, while plug-in hybrids can travel 20 to 50 miles on electricity before switching over to gasoline power. Tax credits vary, depending on the vehicle’s capacity to travel on electric power, and help offset the purchase price.

EVs are less expensive to operate, with fuel costs that are comparable to $1.10 per gallon, and less maintenance needed, he added.

Free public EV charging stations are open at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle, the Parachute I-70 Rest Area, and the Cooper Avenue parking structure in Glenwood Springs.

To drive up installation of more charging stations, the Colorado Energy Office offers grants that can fund up to 80 percent of the cost. Private sector employers, schools, hospitals, governments, and apartment buildings are all eligible for these Charge Ahead grants.

The state’s electric vehicle vehicle licensing fee funds the grant program.

“Garfield Clean Energy can offer free help for anyone seeking to apply for the grant,” said Shmigelsky.

The Rifle EV Ride and Drive event is hosted by Garfield Clean Energy, CLEER, the City of Rifle, Garfield County Environmental Health, the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Rifle Branch Library. Sponsors are Mountain Chevrolet and Glenwood Springs Ford.

National Drive Electric Week is sponsored by Plug In America, Sierra Club and Electric Auto Association.

Rifle EV Ride and Drive sponsors

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Control Your Energy Costs with Solar

Solar energy workshops to help governments,
special districts get started

Libraries, schools, water plants and town halls in western Colorado are cutting their electrical energy costs by installing solar arrays. Two free workshops will explain how more governments and special districts can get started using solar to cut energy costs.

The “Control Your Energy Costs with Solar” workshops are being offered in Grand Junction and Rifle; staff and elected officials are invited to attend either one. The workshop includes a free lunch.

Grand Junction workshop
10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 24
Alpine Bank Community Room
225 N. Fifth St.
Register online by Sept. 22 at

Rifle workshop
10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 25
Colorado Mountain College
3695 Airport Road
Register online by Sept. 22 at

The workshop will also cover utility incentives available from Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy and Delta Montrose Electric, plus financing options available in each utility’s service territory.

The workshop is sponsored by Garfield Clean Energy, Sunsense Solar, CLEER, Alpine Bank, Colorado Mountain College, Conservation Colorado and Western Colorado Congress.

Katharine Rushton, who handles commercial sales for Sunsense Solar of Carbondale, will explain how large solar arrays are built to match the energy needs of each building or facility. She will explain various financing mechanisms and their effect on electric bills.

“There’s an advantage to installing solar in the coming year,” Rushton said. “At the end of 2016, the 30 percent federal tax credit will drop to 10 percent, and Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program also ends.”

The tax credit and utility incentives make it possible for third-party businesses to finance the arrays, reducing up-front costs for the site host.

Frank Watt, public works director for the Town of Palisade, will share his experience with solar installations from the customer standpoint.

Matt Shmigelsky, an energy consultant with CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region, will show how local governments in Garfield County are tracking solar production on the Building Energy Navigator website, and explain what’s involved in connecting an array to the Navigator.

Solar arrays are ideal for bringing down electricity costs for water and wastewater treatment plants, schools, libraries, town halls and other operations facilities. Solar panels can be installed on rooftops, on ground structures, or as parking lot canopies next to an energy-using building.

Attend this workshop to learn about solar arrays and financing options in layman’s terms, and learn how you can act now to use solar energy to save taxpayer dollars.

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Battlement Mesa Metro District solar array

This solar array is sized to power 100 percent of the electrical needs for the Battlement Mesa Metro District water treatment plant. Photo courtesy Sunsense Solar

Battlement Mesa solar array to switch on this month

1,422 solar panels to power Metro District’s water treatment plant

The large solar array that will power the Battlement Mesa Metro District water treatment plant is expected to go live on the Xcel Energy grid later this month, says Katherine Rushton, commercial sales manager for Sunsense Solar.

The 1,422 solar panels in the array are rated to generate nearly 700,000 kilowatt-hours per year, comparable to the electricity used by about 100 homes. The array is sized to power 100 percent of the treatment plant’s annual electrical demand.

Sunsense Solar of Carbondale built the array for the Metro District using third-party financing, so the upfront cost to the district was $2,500. By locking in the cost of electricity with a financed solar array, the district is expected to save about $3,000 in the first year of operation, and about $200,000 over the coming 20 years.

The project came about through a workshop in April 2014 hosted by CLEER, Sunsense Solar and Garfield Clean Energy. Steve Rippy, general manager of the Metro District, was among the local government officials learning about the financing mechanism. Further conversations between Sunsense and the Metro District board, with energy consulting from Matt Shmigelsky of CLEER, brought the project from an idea to a plan of action.

“Steve Rippy and the Metro District Board of Directors were very open to learning about how to implement solar through a power purchase agreement,” said Rushton. “Once they understood the concept, they were eager to move forward.”

Rushton noted that during the construction, from May 11 to Aug. 20, Water Plant Superintendent Roger Bulla served as the liaison between the Metro District and the construction team.

A Sunsense crew of seven solar installers and five assistants built the racks and installed the solar panels, along with 16 inverters that convert direct current (DC) produced by the panels to alternating current (AC) used by the electric grid.

Also on the job were three subcontractors. SGM of Glenwood Springs handled structural engineering for the foundation. Lyons Fencing of Silt carried out excavation on the two-acre site and built the concrete foundation and perimeter fencing. Expert Electric of Rifle wired the AC side of the array.

“This was a challenging place to build, due to the river rock throughout the site,” Rushton said. “The Sunsense install crew worked closely with Lyons Fencing to remove some very large rocks.”
The Battlement Mesa array joins a robust list of government-owned solar arrays across Garfield County. A total of 27 arrays from Battlement Mesa to Carbondale have a total generating capacity of 4.6 megawatts, and produce about 8.4 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity per year.

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Alpine Bank and Holy Cross Energy

Many thanks to Alpine Bank
and Holy Cross Energy for their generous gifts to CLEER. Their support helps make CLEER's work
on increasing energy efficiency possible.

In this issue

Garfield Clean Energy hosts first-ever
EV Ride & Drive in Rifle

“Control Your Energy Costs with Solar” workshops: Grand Junction and Rifle

Battlement Mesa Metro District solar array to switch on this month

EIA: U.S. electricity from renewables to grow 1.8% in 2015

In the news

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

EIA renewable energy growth chart

EIA: U.S. electricity from renewables to grow 1.8%
in 2015

The total amount of electricity generated by renewable energy sources in the U.S. will grow 1.8% this year, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

According to EIA projections, renewable power generation other than hydropower will increase by 5.5% in 2015, while hydropower will decrease 2%, due to effects of the California drought.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 86 gigawatt-hours per day in 2016.

EIA expects utility-scale solar capacity will increase by 90% between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with more than half of this new capacity being built in California. Other leading states include North Carolina, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, which, when combined with California, account for more than 90% of the projected utility-scale capacity additions for 2015 and 2016.

Wind capacity, which grew by 8.3% in 2014, is forecast by EIA to grow 12.8% in 2015 and by 13% in 2016. Because wind is starting from a much larger base than solar, the absolute increase in wind capacity is projected to be twice that of solar: 18 gigawatts (GW) of wind compared with 9 GW of utility-scale solar between 2014 and 2016.

Read more in the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook for Renewables and CO2 Emissions

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The Daily Sentinel, Aug. 3, 2015
Business feature:
One Source Lighting

One Source Lighting owner Matt Thesing: “The success of One Source Lighting in the LED world has become the employee commitment to education.”

Denver Business Journal
Aug. 10, 2015
Where Colorado ranks on wind power
Colorado ranks seventh among the states for wind-power generation capacity installed in 2014, and 10th for total wind power installed through last year, according to a pair of new reports from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Boulder Daily Camera, Aug. 25, 2015
Boulder County to offer discounted solar panels, electric cars
Boulder County is joining with Adams and Denver counties to offer residents the opportunity to purchase discounted home solar systems and electric vehicles.
The Solar Benefits Colorado program offers homeowners an estimated 15 percent discount on solar rooftop systems and roughly $8,300 off the cost of a Nissan Leaf, according to Brad Smith, a sustainability specialist for Boulder County.

Aspen Times, Aug. 31, 2015
Aspen is third U.S. city to reach
100% renewable energy

Aspen is one of three U.S. cities to run on 100 percent renewable energy. The shift to energy that is generated from natural resources — including wind power, solar power and geothermal heat — follows a “decade-plus” city goal, said Aspen Utilities and Environmental Initiatives director David Hornbacher.