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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

September 29, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 7

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Rifle Creek Apartments weatherization project

The weatherization project at Rifle Creek Apartments benefits 94 families, the apartment building owner, and two local businesses working on the project. From left are Ronnie De La Garza, Laura Brown and her daughters Madison and Hayden, property manager Kim Krelovich, and the air sealing crew with Building Performance Contractors, Chris Gottschalck, Ian Rice and company owner Rich Backe. Photo by Kelley Cox

94 Rifle families will be warmer in winter

Partnership provides energy upgrades at Rifle Creek Apartments; residents will see lower electric bills year-round

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

This year, Laura Brown is looking forward to the cold winter weather. Her apartment building at Rifle Creek Apartments has just been weatherized through a special project organized by Garfield Clean Energy, and she expects her place to be cozy and the electric bills to be a lot lower.

“Just in the past month, my electric bill was down by $40,” said Brown, who has lived at Rifle Creek since July 2014. She runs the air conditioning just in the morning, and the upstairs apartment stays cool all day. Before the weatherizing, the AC was on all day.

Ian Rice caulks around a fireplace

Above, Ian Rice applies caulk to a gap in the fireplace of a Rifle Creek Apartments unit. Below, Rice seals up another air leak in the trim between two rooms.
Photos by Kelley Cox

Ian Rice caulks in a kitchen.

The project is weatherizing all 94 units in the Rifle Creek Apartments complex in north Rifle, providing air sealing and insulation to help residents cut energy costs and enjoy more comfortable homes.

The Rifle Creek Apartments weatherization is a special project within the 2015 Home Energy Program, a partnership effort by Garfield Clean Energy, CLEER, Energy Outreach Colorado and Xcel Energy.

Prior to the Rifle Creek project, the 2015 Home Energy Program provided free home energy visits, weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades for 39 income-qualified families and seniors living in mobile homes and houses across Garfield County.

For the county-wide program, Holy Cross Energy and SourceGas also provided funding for their customers, and the Town of Carbondale provided additional funding for its residents.

Energy upgrades to the 39 homes are valued at $126,000, and residents are expected to save $21,600 on their utility bills every year.

As the Home Energy Program wrapped up, Xcel Energy and Energy Outreach Colorado suggested a special follow-up project. Xcel Energy was looking for all-electric homes occupied by income-qualified families, where insulation and air sealing would reduce electric demand winter and summer.

“Energy Outreach contacted us because we already had the Home Energy Program going,” said Maisa Metcalf, energy consultant for CLEER and manager of the Home Energy Program.

CLEER manages programs for Garfield Clean Energy, which is a nine-member partnership of Garfield County, its six towns, Colorado Mountain College and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

Metcalf and Luke Ilderton of Energy Outreach Colorado met with the Rifle Creek Apartments manager on Aug. 3.

“The building owner’s biggest concern was out-of-pocket costs,” Metcalf said. “Since the residents qualified for the Home Energy Program, Xcel would cover all the costs.”

In addition to helping families save on electric bills, the Rifle Creek project will help Xcel meet its statewide goals for energy efficiency among residential customers.

“Adding 94 homes to the Home Energy Program is exciting. We are really making a difference for a lot of families and seniors,” said Metcalf.

“When people have lower gas and electric bills, they can buy groceries, medication or go out to dinner, “ she added. “It improves the local economy.”

For the Rifle Creek Apartments project, Xcel Energy is paying for the work under a $138,000 contract with Building Performance Contractors of Carbondale and West Valley Insulation of Silt.

“Most of these units are more than 40 years old. They had floor insulation, but a lot of it had fallen down,” said Rich Backe, owner of Building Performance Contractors. “We are adding insulation in the crawl space and the attic. We’re also finding air leaks around windows and doors, in outlets and the electric panels, around light fixtures, the fireplaces and along the baseboards.”

Backe said air sealing is essential to make the insulation effective. “Without air sealing, it’s like having an insulated cup with a hole in it. Your coffee will be warm, but’s all going to drain out.”

His crew of four is going from unit to unit, setting up what’s called a blower-door test. It’s a high-volume fan mounted in a vinyl sheet that covers an entire doorway. The fan blows inside air outward to de-pressurize the home. An infrared camera then detects where air is leaking in from outdoors and from the unheated crawl space and attic.

“We also use digital technology – our fingers and hands. You can just reach up and feel where the air is flowing,” Backe said. His crew goes after those spots with caulk and spray foam.

Work started at Rifle Creek Apartments on Sept. 1 and will wrap up by mid-October.
West Valley Insulation’s crew is working on the 11 buildings in the complex off and on during the same six-week period.

Laura Brown is the office manager for West Valley Insulation along with being a Rifle Creek Apartments resident. “We are installing insulation in the attics and crawl spaces. It is nice to have a local company doing this work,” Brown said.

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Racks for Roaring Fork High School solar array

Roaring Fork High School soon to be solar-powered

Third major array will add 1 megawatt of capacity in Garfield County

Sunsense Solar of Carbondale is setting racks in place for a 379-kilowatt solar array at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. The array is sized to make the school net-zero for electricity, offsetting 100 percent of its annual electrical demand.

It’s the third major solar energy system being installed in Garfield County in 2014 and 2015 by Sunsense, a Carbondale solar developer and contractor. Together the systems will add up to 1 megawatt of renewable energy capacity.

A 234-kilowatt array powering the Silt Water Treatment Plant opened in January, and a 435-kilowatt array powering the Battlement Mesa Metro District Water Treatment Plant is nearing completion.

All three projects are financed by power purchase agreements and Xcel Energy renewable energy credits, with minimal upfront costs for the governmental entities.

With three major projects running consecutively, Sunsense hired seven more workers, said Katharine Rushton, commercial sales manager for Sunsense.

“These combined contracts are worth $2.3 million, and Sunsense is directly investing $1 million into the Garfield County economy through wages, subcontractors, equipment rental and purchasing supplies,” Rushton said.

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Rifle EV Ride and Drive

Jonathan Gorst, salesman for Mountain Chevrolet, second from right, offered test drives in his 2014 Chevrolet Volt during the Rifle EV Ride and Drive event held Sept. 17, 2015, in Rifle, Colo. Gina Reece-Long, left, was an event volunteer with the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce. Taking a test drive were Ben Williams, behind the Volt, and Gabriel Gonzalez, right, both of Rifle.
Photo by Heather McGregor

Rifle hosts first-ever electric vehicle ride and drive

Ford, Chevy dealers introduce plug-in hybrids
to western Garfield County

Rifle joined National Drive Electric Week to host its first-ever electric vehicle ride and drive event on Sept. 17, drawing two dozen motorists interesting learning more about EV technology.

“I am a total fan,” said Tricia Cleis of Rifle, in an interview with the Rifle Citizen Telegram newspaper.

Cleis took two test drives, and told the newspaper, “I’m really excited about the new electric cars. It’s just the way we have to go.”

Sales staff with Mountain Chevrolet and Glenwood Springs Ford provided 18 back-to-back test drives of a Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion and Ford C-Max, with eager drivers waiting in line for a chance to drive one of the vehicles.

“It was a huge success,” said Jonathan Gorst, salesman for Mountain Chevrolet of Glenwood Springs.

Chris Clarke and Chet Garling, sales staff with Glenwood Springs Ford, said the level of interest was a surprise, and noted that test-drivers asked challenging questions.

Event organizers weren’t sure if the event would be a sellout or a flop. But drivers showed up 15 minutes early and a steady stream of people went for a drive and learned about plug-in electric cars from local experts.

Members of the Vernal, Utah, Chamber of Commerce, visiting Rifle on a bus tour, dropped by to learn about EVs, as did students in the Colorado Mountain College Sustainability Program with their instructor, Stewart Clark.

Rifle EV Ride and Drive

Shelley Kaup, right, explains the advantages of owning this plug-in electric Ford C-Max Energi during the Rifle EV Ride and Drive event held Sept. 17, 2015, in Rifle, Colo. Listening are, from left, Zac Sutherland, environmental health specialist with Garfield County Public Health, Josh Williams, director of Garfield County Public Health, Lilly Williams, and Stephanie Stocking, media specialist with the Garfield County Public Library District and Rifle Branch Library.
Photo by Heather McGregor


Shelley Kaup, an energy consultant with CLEER and the owner of a Ford C-Max Energi, propped up the hood of her plug-in and talked with people about its advantages.

“I am so impressed with the technology of the plug-in hybrid vehicles,” Kaup said. “My Ford C-Max runs about 20 miles in all-electric mode and then runs as a hybrid with a range of over 600 miles. It charges the EV battery when I’m braking or driving downhill.

“In the first 3,000 miles, we have averaged more than 68 mpg, including short trips and six trips over the mountain passes. This car is smart and fun to drive,” Kaup added.

Matt Shmigelsky, a Refuel Colorado Fleets energy coach with CLEER, spent two hours talking with drivers about car charging, vehicle driving range and fuel efficiency, and the attractive combination of state and federal tax credits that significantly reduce the purchase cost of electric vehicles.

“Public EV charging has come a long way in the last two years,” said Shmigelsky. “We’ve gone from no public charging to having 19 public charging stations from Grand Junction to Aspen and Vail. Refuel Colorado Fleets has helped many of these public charging site hosts obtain Charge Ahead Colorado grants to offset the installation cost.”

Zac Sutherland, an environmental health specialist with Garfield County Public Health, talked about the environmental benefits of EVs.

“When you look at an internal combustion engine, you have volatile organic compounds coming out, you have a carbon dioxide problem and all these different carcinogens that come out with car exhaust,” Sutherland told the Rifle Citizen Telegram. “When a car is running in electric mode, it doesn’t have any tailpipe emissions whatsoever.”

Stephanie Stocking, a media specialist with the Rifle Branch Library, hosted a table to demonstrate the library’s online resources for researching electric vehicles, such as Consumer Reports and automotive magazines and informative websites.

The ride and drive event was jointly organized and hosted by Garfield Clean Energy, CLEER, the City of Rifle, Garfield County Public Health, the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rifle Branch Library. It was held at the Rifle City Hall parking structure, where a 140-kilowatt solar array provides a shade canopy for vehicles parked on the upper level.

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Trillium CBNG station under construction in Glenwood Springs

Crews prepare the site for the new CNG fueling island at the Shell station in West Glenwood.
Photo by Kelley Cox

Trillium CNG building station in Glenwood Springs

Public fueling station expected to open in October

Trillium CNG started work Aug. 10 on its public-access compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at the Glenwood Food & Fuel Shell West Mart in West Glenwood.
The new facility, located just north of I-70 at Exit 114 at the Glenwood Food & Fuel Shell West Mart, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will feature one dual-hose dispenser with access from two lanes.

Trillium CNG station poster

Trillium CNG expects the new facility to be completed and operational by the fall.

This is Trillium CNG's second station in Colorado. The company built and operates the private CNG station in Glenwood Springs that supports the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) for its VelociRFTA Bus Rapid Transit, which provides service to Aspen and Grand Hogback service to Rifle.

The anchor fleet for the station will be Western Tank Lines, which hauls the gasoline and diesel sold at the Shell station.

“Western Tank Lines is excited to integrate CNG trucks into our fleet and fuel at the Trillium CNG station in Glenwood Springs," said Al Butler, president of Western Tank Lines. “CNG presents the opportunity to use a domestic fuel source with lower price volatility than gasoline and diesel, while producing fewer tailpipe emissions.”

“We are pleased to be able to bring compressed natural gas to Glenwood Springs,“ said Joel Jansen, vice president of Trillium CNG. “The state of Colorado has been at the forefront of the natural gas movement and clearly understands the real environmental and economic benefits CNG provides. Our high performance fast-fill stations are built with the safety, reliability and technology heavy-duty fleets have come to depend on.”

Garfield County has strongly supported development of the CNG station, through a grant for station construction, by buying CNG vehicles for the county fleet, and by supporting Garfield Clean Energy’s West Slope CNG Network project.

“We supported the development of the Glenwood Springs CNG station with a $90,000 grant. We understand the value of using locally-produced natural gas for transportation, and are working to switch vehicles in the county fleet to CNG over the coming years,” said Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky.

Trillium CNG’s new Glenwood Springs station is also supported by a $10,000 grant from the City of Glenwood Springs, the $90,000 grant from Garfield County and a $442,880 grant from the State of Colorado’s ALT Fuels Colorado grant program, which is funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

"The principal infrastructure goal of the ALT Fuels Colorado program is to create a statewide system of publicly accessible compressed natural gas fueling stations along major transportation corridors in Colorado, in turn removing barriers to the state’s natural gas vehicle market. The forthcoming station in Glenwood Springs will fill a critical network link along I-70,” said Wes Maurer, transportation program manager for the Colorado Energy Office.

“The Glenwood Springs City Council is pleased to see construction begin on the Trillium CNG fueling station, and we look forward to the station opening this fall,” said Glenwood Springs Mayor Mike Gamba. “Offering public CNG fueling helps diversify our local economy, and will give people an incentive to buy CNG vehicles.”

Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER are working with Trillium CNG to plan a grand opening event at the station, to be held later this fall.

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Rifle, Gunnison CNG stations win state grants

ALT Fuels Colorado grant program announces
third round of awards for CNG stations

The Colorado Energy Office announced Aug. 13 that it will award funding for four compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, including Western Slope locations in Rifle and Gunnison.

CLEER Energy Consultant Matt Shmigelsky assisted the Rifle and Gunnison station developers with their grant applications through his work with Garfield Clean Energy and the Refuel Colorado Fleets program.

“The need for CNG fueling in these communities is strong, and fleets are eager for these stations to open up,” said Shmigelsky. “We saw tremendous support for these grant applications in both communities.”

Refuel is a statewide program that CLEER initiated and has managed since 2013. Refuel fleet coaches help government and private sector fleet managers understand the benefits of alternative fuels, and the program is building market demand across the state for alternative fuel vehicles and fueling stations.

The four awarded locations and developers are:

Rifle - Sparq Natural Gas
Gunnison - Trillium CNG
Henderson - Ward Alternative Energy
Denver - VNG Co.

Additionally, awards were made for co-located electric vehicle charging and propane fueling stations at three previously awarded sites in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley.

The ALT Fuels Colorado grant program is designed to remove barriers to the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles by addressing the current lack of fueling infrastructure.

ALT Fuels Colorado stations

To date, the Colorado Energy Office has issued awards for 15 CNG stations. This is the third funding round since the program's inception in 2014. The ALT Fuels Colorado grant program is offered in partnership with the Regional Air Quality Council and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

"The program's newly awarded locations illustrate a more comprehensive picture of Colorado's rapidly advancing statewide system of publicly accessible, fast-fill compressed natural gas fueling stations," said Wes Maurer, transportation program manager at the Colorado Energy Office.  

Through the Federal Highway Administration's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program and the Colorado Department of Transportation, the ALT Fuels Colorado grant program will provide $30 million over a four-year period (2014 to 2017) toward the construction of statewide alternative fueling infrastructure, and for talternative fuel vehicles for fleets operating within the state's air quality non-attainment area along the northern Front Range.  

Under the Colorado Energy Office's stewardship, $15 million of the CMAQ funds will be used to develop between 25 and 30 fast-fill CNG stations along major statewide transportation corridors, in turn, creating an intrastate network for natural gas vehicle travel.

There are both economic and environmental benefits to using alternative fuel vehicles. Environmentally, studies show that CNG-powered vehicles can reduce ozone-causing pollutants by 60 to 90 percent. Vehicle emissions are the largest contributors to ground level ozone pollution.

Economically, Colorado is a net exporter of natural gas. The fuel price is more stable than gasoline, with an average of $2.09 per gasoline gallon equivalent over the past five years.

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Alpine Bank and Holy Cross Energy

Many thanks to Alpine Bank
Holy Cross Energy
and the Ruth Brown Foundation
for their generous gifts to CLEER.

Their support helps make CLEER's work on increasing energy efficiency possible.

In this issue

94 Rifle families getting free home insulation, air sealing

Roaring Fork High School
soon to be solar-powered

Rifle hosts first-ever electric vehicle
ride and drive

Trillium CNG building fueling station
in Glenwood Springs

Rifle, Gunnison CNG stations win
ALT Fuels Colorado grants

2015 rebates for Glenwood Springs Electric customers

Colorado Energy Office launches Home Energy Score at Realtors convention

DOE awards $6.5 million to advance
low-impact hydropower

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

Glenwood Springs Electric

2015 rebates for Glenwood Springs Electric customers

Don't miss out on your 2015 rebate for energy efficiency upgrades. Plan upgrades today to take advantage of savings.

  • 50% up to $7,500 for upgrades to businesses
  • 50% up to $1,700 for upgrades to homes
  • (Combined Glenwood Springs Electric and Energy Smart Colorado rebates)

Call a CLEER Energy Consultant for details, 704-9200 or


DOE Better Buildings Colorado

Colorado Energy Office launches Home Energy Score at Realtors convention

New tool helps compare
home energy efficiency features

The Colorado Energy Office introduced the Home Energy Score to real estate professionals at the Colorado Association of REALTORS® convention on Sept. 17 in Keystone.

The Home Energy Score is a tool developed by the U.S. Department of Energy that provides real estate professionals, homeowners and homebuyers with a simple snapshot of a home's energy rating and energy efficiency features.

Similar to a vehicle's miles-per-gallon rating, the Home Energy Score helps homebuyers understand how much energy a home is expected to use and offers recommendations for cost-saving energy efficiency improvements.

"The Home Energy Score makes it possible to consider a home's energy usage and potential cost-savings right alongside the mix of items typically compared during a home purchase,” said Jeffrey Ackermann, director of the Colorado Energy Office.

“Home buyers are more knowledgeable than ever, and this new tool arms them with the information they need to understand the value of a home's energy performance before they buy," Ackermann added.

The Home Energy Score, offered through the Colorado Energy Office's Better Buildings Colorado program, makes it easier for real estate professionals and buyers to evaluate the cost-saving benefits of efficiency features and the hidden energy costs of poor insulation or outdated equipment. It also provides real estate professionals with a new tool to help promote properties with energy efficiency features.

Home Energy Score assessors collect data during a home's energy assessment and provide a score on a 1-to-10 scale, along with recommendations for energy efficiency improvements. At the homeowner's request, the rating can be incorporated into the multiple listing service (MLS) database to simplify home comparisons.

"Until now, a home's energy efficiency benefits were difficult to quantify and compare," said Tyrone Adams, CEO of the Colorado Association of REALTORS®. "A Home Energy Score provides homebuyers a chance to evaluate a home's efficiency features before they buy so they can make the most knowledgeable decision on one of the biggest investments in their life."

The Better Buildings Colorado program is engaging the real estate community and coordinating with multiple listing services to make energy information visible and understandable.

The program also is providing real estate professionals free Home Energy Score trainings and two continuing education credits. To register for training dates visit

For more information about the statewide Better Buildings Colorado program and for training dates, contact Peter Rusin, Colorado Energy Office residential program manager, at or visit


DOE awards $6.5 million
to advance low-impact hydropower

Colorado firm wins award to develop composite turbine runners

The U.S. Energy Department on Sept. 14 announced $6.5 million in awards to seven organizations to advance the manufacturing and installation of hydropower technologies with low environmental impacts.

The projects will address three technical areas: rapidly deployable civil works technologies, innovative methods and materials for hydropower construction, and powertrain components.

While hydropower already supplies approximately 7% of U.S. electricity and is considered the leading source of renewable energy, the nation still has significant untapped resources where new hydropower generating capabilities could boost the supply of carbon-free energy.

For example, Colorado award winner Composite Technology Development Inc. of Lafayette will develop composite turbine runners suitable for small hydropower systems.

The use of composite materials can reduce the levelized cost of energy for small hydropower systems by improving fatigue, corrosion, and erosion resistance while reducing maintenance and transportation costs.

Funds were also awarded to organizations in Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Washington.

Read more here.



Denver Post, Sept. 16, 2015
Hickenlooper promises $100M
to make Colorado "the best state
for biking"

LAS VEGAS — Gov. John Hickenlooper on Sept. 16 announced a plan to spend more than $100 million over the next four years to make Colorado "the best state for biking."

"Biking can be such a positive force, and I think being the best biking state is going to fuel economic growth and tourism. It's going to lead us toward a cleaner environment, and it's going to help us be the healthiest state in America," Hickenlooper said in Las Vegas at Interbike, the largest annual bike trade event in North America.

Read the article


Denver Business Journal, Sept. 16, 2015
Hickenlooper unveils first
Colorado Climate Plan

Gov. John Hickenlooper's first Colorado Climate Plan was rolled out Sept. 16, focusing on seven key sectors and highlighting ways business and local governments can play a role.

“Colorado is facing a potential increase in both the number and severity of extreme weather events,” Hickenlooper said in announcing the plan.

“We’ve seen what Mother Nature can do, and additional risks present a considerable set of challenges for the state, our residents, and our way of life. This comprehensive plan puts forth our commitment from the state and sets the groundwork for the collaboration needed to make sure Colorado is prepared.”

The plan focuses on seven sectors including water, public health, energy, transportation, agriculture, tourism and recreation and ecosystems.

It also includes a chapter highlighting ways local governments and businesses are playing a significant role.

Read the article

Find the new Colorado Climate Plan here