Email CLEER   970.704.9200
Clean Energy Economy for the Region

March 4, 2016, Vol. 9, No. 1

< Back to newsletter index

2016 Energy Smart Contractor Expo set for March 17

Energy Smart Contractor Expo

Workshops, 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 2016 Energy Smart Contractor Expo.

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 17
Colorado Mountain College, 1402 Blake Ave, Glenwood Springs

$15 in advance or $20 at the door, and covers the
Includes workshops, morning refreshments and lunch

To register, visit

The Expo will feature booths hosted by suppliers and installers showing energy efficiency and renewable energy products, and by energy utilities explaining incentives programs.

Participants can choose from seven 45-minute workshops presented by energy experts. A special two-hour training session on the Home Energy Score will also be offered, with continuing education credits for REALTORS.

The expo also includes plenty of break time for visiting the booths and networking.

To register, visit

To see the workshop schedule and vendor booths, visit

< Back to top

CLEER’s Mobility, Fuels & Funding Forum
envisions region’s transportation future

Experts, business leaders, elected officials
address need for trails, transit and roadway upgrades

Ralph Trapani and Shailen Bhatt

Ralph Trapani, vice-chair of the CLEER Board, with Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation and keynote speaker for the forum.

Elected officials panel

The regional elected officials panel, from left, Carbondale Mayor Stacey P. Bernot, Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, Pitkin County Commissioner George Newman, New Castle Councilor Frank Breslin, Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba, and Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson.

Lee Barger and Frank Breslin

Lee Barger of SGM and Frank Breslin, New Castle Councilor, look at the LoVa trails map.

Don Donnors and Karen Wahrmund

Don Connors of Amec Foster Wheeler, a corporate sponsor of the Mobility Forum, and Karen Wahrmund of CLEER, project manager for RIDE Garfield County.

Community leaders from Aspen to Grand Junction who are concerned about the region’s transportation system convened in Glenwood Springs on Feb. 5 to discuss regional mobility, transportation funding and alternative fuels. The event drew 130 people for lively conversations

Shailen Bhatt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, said the agency needs new funding from within Colorado to address the pressing need for roadways, bridges and better maintenance as the state’s population spirals upward. Colorado is too dependent on federal highway dollars, he noted.

Transportation planner Jim Charlier praised the region’s success with transit and trails, but said growth in the local population and tourism are pushing the limits on those systems. “You do have a travel demand challenge in this valley that you are going to have to respond to,” Charlier said.

Panelists also discussed opportunities arising from the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement project, debated two proposed statewide ballot questions for transportation funding, and explained state efforts to increase demand for alternative transportation fuels.

Another panel of six elected officials from Rifle to Aspen presented their visions for transportation in the coming decade.

CLEER organized the forum, and CLEER Board Vice-Chair Ralph Trapani served as the emcee.

Co-sponsors of the forum were RFTA, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Garfield Clean Energy, Parsons, SGM, Sopris Engineering, Gould Construction, Grand River Construction, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Hotel Denver, Northern Colorado Clean Cities and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

News coverage

Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Feb. 6, 2016
Valley faces 'travel demand challenge'

Aspen Daily News, Feb. 6, 2016
Experts: Local driving habits must change

Aspen Daily News, Feb. 8, 2016
Increase of alternative fuels stations statewide help quell 'range anxiety'



< Back to top

Filmmaker draws full house for “Chasing Ice”

Balog’s film shows real-world effects of climate change

Showing of James Balog films

A crowd of 180 people packed the Third Street Center to spend an evening with filmmaker James Balog.
Photo by Colin Laird


Colorado filmmaker James Balog presented two films and answered questions from a packed audience of 180 at Carbondale’s Third Street Center in a special presentation on Feb. 20.

The film “Chasing Ice” follows Balog and a team of researchers in their quest to capture photographic documentation of shrinking glaciers in the northern hemisphere. Balog also showed a new film, “1000 Cuts,” which documents the impacts of mineral extraction near Canyonlands National Park.

After the films, former Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig moderated a lively discussion between Balog and the audience. To learn more about Balog’s work, visit his website,

The special event was hosted by CLEER, the Colorado River District, Aspen Skiing Co., CORE, Marble Distilling Co., Rock and Ice, Trail Runner, Wilderness Workshop and Colorado Mountain College.

< Back to top

Ribboncutting for Roaring Fork High School solar array

RFHS students celebrate solar array, ‘net-zero’ achievement

1,242 solar panels power 100% of school’s annual electric use

More than 200 Roaring Fork High School Rams cheered in celebration on Jan. 28 for the ribbon cutting celebration for a large solar array powering their school. It’s a project in the making since many were in middle school.

RFHS Energy Club leaders Fiona Laird, Tavia Teitler and Emily Mata spoke for their classmates in expressing Ram Pride for the achievement, which caps a multi-year effort to increase the energy efficiency at all public schools in Carbondale.

RFHS Principal Drew Adams, Roaring Fork Superintendent Diana Sirko, Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot, and Katharine Rushton of Sunsense Solar praised the students for their inspiration and leadership in pushing the project to completion.

The array of 1,242 solar panels, installed by Carbondale-based Sunsense Solar, will power 100 percent of the school’s electric usage on an annual basis, giving the school “net zero” status.

Over the course of a year, the 385-kilowatt array is expected to produce nearly 613,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity – comparable to the electricity used in a year by 85 homes.

News coverage

Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Jan. 29, 2016
Bright, sunny day for RFHS solar array

Sopris Sun, Feb. 4, 2016 (page 17)

< Back to top

CARE offers home energy upgrades for
income-qualified families, seniors

CLEER’s 2015 pilot in Garfield Co. leads to six-county expansion

CARE, Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy program, launched in January in Garfield County and six other counties in the Colorado high country. It’s the continuation of a successful pilot program CLEER managed in 2015, which served 148 families countywide.

Through CARE, income-qualified households receive a free home energy visit from a CLEER energy coach, and can receive free energy upgrades.

“We know many families, couples, singles and seniors are struggling to pay utility bills, especially this time of year. CARE will help reduce their utility bills and make their homes more safe and comfortable,” said Maisa Metcalf, program manager for CLEER.

The CARE program is funded by Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC), a statewide nonprofit that helps low-income families and seniors pay energy bills.

Funding for CARE home energy visits comes from Garfield Clean Energy, while funding for energy efficiency upgrades come from utilities serving the county: Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Black Hills Energy (formerly SourceGas) and Glenwood Springs Electric. Additional funding from the Town of Carbondale allows more households in the town to participate.

Similar CARE programs are being offered by other community organizations to households in Pitkin, Eagle, Lake, Summit, Routt and Moffat counties. The Pitkin County program is managed by CORE.

Learn more about CARE.

Do you know someone struggling to pay their winter utility bills?
LEAP is accepting applications from Colorado residents through April 30.
Call toll-free 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or apply online here.

< Back to top

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

2016 Energy Smart Contractor Expo

CLEER’s Mobility Forum envisions region’s transportation future

Filmmaker James Balog draws full house for “Chasing Ice”

RFHS students celebrate solar array, ‘net-zero’ achievement

CARE offers home energy upgrades for income-qualified families, seniors

SWEEP releases new report on electric utilities ‘embracing electric vehicles’

Solar news roundup:

  • CEO, GRID Alternatives announce projects for income-qualified households
  • Massive solar plant powers up in San Luis Valley
  • EIA Report: Renewables to increase by 8% in 2016
  • U.S. solar employment growing by 20% per year

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

SWEEP EV report

SWEEP releases new report on electric utilities ‘embracing electric vehicles’

SWEEP, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, has released a new report on how leading electric utilities in the southwestern U.S. are making the most of a new market sector: electric vehicles.

Because EVs are so much more efficient than gasoline vehicles, a larger market share will cause total energy use and emissions to decrease.

Some utilities are offering rebates for customers installing charging stations, operating their own public charge stations. Utilities are also focused on the impact of EV charging on the electric grid, and offering time-of-use rates to shift EV charging to off-peak hours.

The SWEEP report reviews the rationale for utility promotion of EVs, best practices across the country, and opportunities for utilities to encourage customers to switch to electric vehicles.

Click here to access the 30-page report.

< Back to top

Solar energy news roundup

Solar installers

CEO, GRID Alternatives announce solar projects for income-qualified households

On Jan. 27, the Colorado Energy Office and GRID Alternatives announced five projects for western Colorado to demonstrate the viability of community solar projects serving income-qualified households.

Five Western Slope electric co-ops, including Holy Cross Energy, have volunteered to build projects benefitting low-income customers -- those who spend more than 4 percent of their income on utility bills -- for a total of 579 kilowatts.

In addition to Holy Cross Energy, participating co-ops are Delta Montrose Electric, Gunnison County Electric, San Miguel Power and Yampa Valley Electric.


Massive solar plant powers up
in San Luis Valley

The Denver Business Journal reports that Xcel Energy flipped the switch Dec. 23 on Colorado’s newest, huge solar power plant. The 50-megawatt, Hooper solar power plant, covering 320 acres in the San Luis Valley, is expected to generate enough electricity to serve about 13,500 average Colorado homes.
Read the news article


EIA Report: Renewables to increase by 8% in 2016

The U.S. Energy Information Agency forecasts that renewables used in the U.S. electric power sector will increase by 9.5% in 2016. EIA also forecast that hydropower generation in the electric power sector will increase by 3.6% in 2016.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 128 gigawatt-hours per day in 2017, an increase of 42% from 2016. Utility-scale solar power could average 1.1% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2017, the agency estimated.

EIA also expects utility-scale solar capacity will have increased by 126% (13 GW) between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with 4.9 GW of new capacity being built in California.

Wind capacity, which starts from a significantly larger installed capacity base than solar, grew by 13% in 2015, and is forecast to increase by 14% in 2016 and by 3% in 2017.

See the EIA report.


U.S. solar employment growing
by 20% per year

Over the last year, the solar industry added jobs twelve times faster than the rest of the economy, even more than the jobs created by the oil and gas extraction and pipeline sectors combined.

The Solar Foundation released its annual Solar Jobs Census on Jan. 12, and found that for the third straight year, the U.S. solar workforce grew by 20 percent.

According to the census, the industry added 35,052 jobs in 2015, bringing its total to 208,859. That builds on 31,000 jobs added in 2014, and 23,600 in 2013.

< Back to top


Vail Daily, Feb. 9, 2016
Eagle County okays funding for
climate fight

The Eagle County commissioners say climate change is a “slow moving catastrophe,” and are investing $52,000 in a climate action plan.

“This is important, and what we can impact, we should impact,” said Eagle County Commissioner Jill Ryan.

Walking Mountains Science Center will create the climate action plan, based on input and data from Eagle County residents and organizations.