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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

April 29, 2016, Vol. 9, No. 3

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Zendt Properties - Title Co. of the Rockies

A lighting upgrade by commercial landlord Mark Spidell, right, in the offices of Title Co. of the Rockies creates an enhanced work environment for Title Co. staffers Mary Scheurich, senior escrow officer, and Jaymi McKeever, escrow processor.
Photo by Kelley Cox

Landlord’s lighting initiative enhances
work environment in office buildings

Electricity savings, rebates yield payback
of less than three years for Grand Avenue projects


Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

When Mark Spidell bought the two commercial office buildings at 1614 and 1620 Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, he knew he was “inheriting a project.”

All sorts of upgrades were needed. This month, a contractor is replacing shingles on the exterior of the two buildings.

Indoors, a series of lighting upgrades over the past two years in the ground floor and basement office spaces have delivered high quality lighting to tenants, and kept their electric bills in check.

Sleek new LED ceiling light fixtures cast an even, warm light in the offices with none of the flickering, buzzing or odd coloration of the old fluorescent lighting, while using a small fraction of the electricity.

Within weeks of buying the property in 2013 through his business, Zendt Properties, Spidell was on a ladder changing out exterior lights and installing a few high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures.

Then he started working with CLEER Energy Consultant Shelley Kaup to develop an overall plan for energy upgrades at the two buildings. CLEER works with Glenwood Springs Electric and Garfield Clean Energy to help businesses make smart decisions about energy efficiency upgrades and to maximize efficiency and available rebates.

Glenwood Springs Electric offers rebates through its Sustainability Program to encourage energy efficiency and reduce electric demand. This helps the municipal utility’s budget and helps the city reach its climate and energy goals. Garfield Clean Energy works countywide to increase energy efficiency and create a more resilient economy.

Kaup said lighting upgrades are the most popular energy efficiency upgrade for commercial property owners. New lighting definitely made sense for Zendt Properties, she said.

“Lighting was the obvious thing, also roof insulation,” Spidell said. “Shelley was very helpful in pointing me in the right direction. I would show her my ideas and she would give me better examples of what I was looking for.”

State Farm agent Jeff Leonard and Zendt Proiperties owner Mark Spidell

State Farm agent Jeff Leonard, left, credits his landlord, Mark Spidell, right, with taking on a lighting upgrade at the office building on Grand Avenue.
Photo by Kelley Cox

 

Spidell and his contractor, Jeremiah Hughes of Backcountry Electric, worked on four major lighting upgrades in the two buildings in 2014 and 2015.

“It’s like a whole new world here,” said Jeff Leonard, the State Farm agent whose office fronts Grand Avenue in the 1620 building. “We love our lights.”

Upgrading the lighting was Spidell’s idea, Leonard said, and the State Farm office was one of three tenants to share in the costs. Title Co. of the Rockies and Coldwell Banker Mason & Morse also shared in their upgrade costs, since they pay their own electric bills.

Other tenants in the buildings have their utility costs included in the rent, so it was even more in Spidell’s interest to upgrade their lighting.

One of these is Northwestern Colorado Youth for Christ, which occupies the basement office in the 1614 building.

“My office was a dungeon,” said Rosa Collier, the office manager.

Backcountry Electric replaced 13 ceiling fixtures in the basement office with LEDs. Now there is no flickering, and no need to replace burned-out light bulbs, Collier said.

“It’s a lot easier on my eyes,” she added.

The old fluorescent lights in the YFC office also sent a lot of heat into the office of Endodontist Dr. Roger Brown, directly overhead.

“The office lights gave off so much heat,” Spidell recalled, “Dr. Brown had the air conditioning on one day in December.”

The new LEDs, both downstairs and in Brown’s office, give off very little heat, helping moderate the temperature in both offices.

Lorrie Brown, office manager for her husband, said the new LED lighting in their dentistry clinic doesn’t flicker or buzz, and makes for a calm environment.

For the four lighting projects, Zendt Properties invested approximately $14,000. Based on the strong energy savings of the improvements, Spidell secured rebates from Glenwood Springs Electric and CORE to buy down approximately 50 percent of the project investment.  

Kaup estimated that the combined annual savings for the new lighting would be about $3,000 annually, a savings shared by Spidell and his tenants. With the rebates, the project payback is less than three years.

Spidell has more projects on his list to improve the durability, efficiency and looks of the two buildings.

“Before I do anything new, I run it by Shelley first,” Spidell noted. “I have encouraged other people to reach out to her, people who are tenants or owners. It’s worth doing.”

Later this year, Spidell plans to upgrade the roofing on the 1620 building, improving the insulation and using a white roofing material that will reflect hot summer sunlight and keep the building cooler.

“I’m committed to making my small part of Glenwood Springs better,” Spidell said. “If I can be a good landlord, that’s meaningful for me.”

For more information about saving energy, contact CLEER at 704-9200 or visit GarfieldCleanEnergy.org .

Zendt Properties street view from Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs

A view of the two Zendt Properties office buildings at 1614 and 1620 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs. Owner Mark Spidell and his contractor, Jeremiah Hughes of Backcountry Electric, have been making lighting upgrades in the buildings since 2014.
Photo by Kelley Cox

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Let's go! Ride Garfield County starts Sunday

Five-month competition includes bicycling, bus-riding

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Ride Garfield County

The official start for the five-month Ride Garfield County Team Challenge is 12 a.m. Sunday, when the online mileage logs reset to zero. The challenge runs for five months, through Sept. 30.

Riders can compete individually and in teams by logging their miles for bicycling and for riding RFTA buses. To get started, visit GarfieldCleanEnergy.org .

“There are already 141 riders and 12 teams signed up for the challenge,” said event organizer Karen Wahrmund of Garfield Clean Energy.

Teams already signed up are Colorado Mountain College, Team Kiwanis, SGM, Colorado River District, Holy Cross Riders, Garfield County Libraries, Hot Springs Athletic Club, Nirad and RE, Stompafish, Energy Resource Center and “Old Slow Guys and a Spunky Girl.”

By running for a five-month period, RIDE Garfield County is aimed at helping people make a habit of bike and bus riding. Both ways of getting around are good for your health and for the environment. And in Glenwood Springs, using a bicycle or bus can help ease traffic congestion during the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement project.

“Riders can sign up, and form or join teams, any time during the five-month period. The sooner people get registered, the more miles they can rack up for the challenge,” Wahrmund said.

Riders and teams have been logging miles in the weeks leading up to the official May 1 start date.

National Bike Challenge launch

The bike-riding side of the Ride Garfield County Team Challenge is hosted on the National Bike Challenge website.

At 12 a.m. on Sunday, the website will officially launch the 2016 challenge nationwide. The site’s mileage logs and leaderboards will all be reset to zero, and all riders and teams will start building points that day.

“We’re competing locally, as riders and as teams. And all our miles add together for Ride Garfield County to compete with communities across the country,” said Wahrmund.

The National Bike Challenge website allows riders to log miles directly, or by using apps such as Facebook, Strava, MapMyRide or Endomondo. All outdoor riding for any purpose can be counted toward the Team Challenge.

Riders and teams can also log their miles for riding RFTA buses. From the Garfield Clean Energy website, bus riders can download an Excel spreadsheet to keep a tally on their computer, or download a PDF that can be printed out to keep a tally on paper.

Local events that promote bicycling are a key part of Ride Garfield County, starting with National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 4.

Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER are the organizers for Ride Garfield County.

Ride Garfield is sponsored by RFTA, Garfield County Libraries, City of Glenwood Springs, Colorado Department of Transportation, LiveWell Garfield County, Carbondale Area Chamber of Commerce, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce, Parachute - Battlement Mesa Area Chamber of Commerce, Parachute Battlement Mesa Trail Group, BackCountry Chiropractic, Ragged Mountain Sports, Defiant Bike Packs, Treadz, The Grind, White House Pizza, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Glenwood Springs Community Center, Sunlight Ski and Bike Shop, and Sampson Sports.

Additional sponsors are welcome to help with local events and prizes. Contact CLEER at (970) 704-9200 or ride@GarfieldCleanEnergy.org to learn more.

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Rifle-area fleets invited to CNG luncheon meeting

Sparq to build CNG fueling island at Gilco Petroleum Park this summer

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News


Owners and managers of vehicle fleets based in the Rifle area are invited to a luncheon meeting on June 8 to learn about the advantages of compressed natural gas (CNG) for trucks of all sizes.

Sparq Natural Gas of Oklahoma City is planning to install a CNG fueling island at the Gilco Petroleum Park, 23899 Highway 6 in Rifle, this fall. The pumps will deliver a CNG fast fill at a competitive price, said Sparq CEO Norman Herrera.

The CNG presentation and luncheon for fleet owners and managers is set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8, at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 600 Wapiti Court in Rifle. A site visit to the Gilco Petroleum Park will follow. REGISTER NOW.

Sparq CNG fueling station

Sparq opened CNG fueling stations in Pueblo and Trinidad in 2015, and a station in Eaton is under construction. Work on the Rifle station will start once the Eaton station is complete, with a projected permit submittal for Rifle by early fall.

The 24-hour self-serve fueling station is designed to handle trucks of any size, including Class 8 semi’s. The station will also include additional pumps for overnight time-fill fueling, which delivers a more full fuel tank.

The Sparq station will join the Encana Oil and Gas CNG station at the Parachute Shell and the Trillium CNG fueling island at the Shell West Mart in Glenwood Springs, making CNG widely available in Garfield County.

CNG is a domestic energy source that costs less than petroleum, has lower price volatility than gasoline and diesel, and produces cleaner tailpipe emissions.

Today’s gasoline and diesel prices are comparable to levels that CNG has been selling at for years, said Matt Shmigelsky, a fleet coach with Garfield Clean Energy.

“If you like the price of gasoline now, how would you like to lock in that price for fuel for years to come?” asks Matt Shmigelsky, a fleet coach with Garfield Clean Energy.

“We know petroleum prices will climb again, but natural gas is more stable. Because it’s a domestic energy source, natural gas provides a far greater level of security than today’s petroleum mix,” he added.

During the June 8 presentation, Herrera will discuss fuel cost savings strategies for customers through the use of contracted fuel purchases.

The Colorado Energy Office is using grant funding from the Federal Highway Administration to incentivize public CNG fueling station development along major highways throughout Colorado.

The state of Colorado also offers tax credits that offset the higher cost of a factory-built CNG truck. The alternative-fuel tax credit can also be stacked with Colorado Enterprise Zone tax credits, applicable in much of western Garfield County, to further offset the purchase price of a new CNG or bi-fuel truck.

For local governments, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs offers a grant program that buys down the cost difference between a gasoline model and a CNG model vehicle.

CNG capable equipment is available from local dealers for every class of vehicle, from light duty pickups to Class 8 tractors.

“These tax credits for vehicles are at their highest levels in 2016, and taper off through 2021,” said Shmigelsky. “Now is the time to learn about CNG for your fleet. There will be no better time to upgrade to CNG than 2016.”

Shmigelsky noted that Columbine Ford in Rifle and Berthod Motors in Glenwood Springs offer maintenance shops fully capable of servicing CNG vehicles.

The CNG meeting and luncheon is hosted by Sparq Natural Gas, Gilco Petroleum, Garfield Clean Energy and its Western Slope CNG Network, Refuel Colorado Fleets and CLEER.

The meeting and luncheon are free, but advance registration is requested by Friday, June 3, at this website: rifle-cng-meeting.eventbrite.com

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CLEER internships a path to success

Kim Short, new intern, to learn residential coaching skills

CLEER is pleased to introduce its newest college intern, Kim Short of Glenwood Springs.

Kim Short, CLEER intern

Kim Short, CLEER intern, with supplies for a CARE home energy visit, a water heater blanket and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

 

“I have a goal of having my own consulting business helping people create more sustainable indoor and outdoor spaces,” Short said. “I have studied landscaping and agriculture. Now I’m excited about the indoor space arena, and CLEER has so much to offer.”

Like CLEER’s three previous interns, Short is a student in the Colorado Mountain College Sustainability Studies bachelor degree program. All three went on to work in the sustainability field.

Short, 25, transferred to CMC in 2014, after earning an associate’s degree in equine science at University of Montana Western in Dillon, Mont.

She grew up in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, and wanted to finish her bachelor’s in Colorado. She found CMC’s Sustainability Studies program to be strongly aligned with her personal values and professional goals.

CLEER staff is training Short on how to be an energy coach for people looking to save energy in their homes. She’ll soon be ready to help residents make smart decisions about energy upgrades and maximize available rebates.

She will also be learning how to do a home energy walk-through by training with CLEER Energy Coach Maisa Metcalf and with Rich Backe, a seasoned home energy analyst and owner of Building Performance Contractors.

“I’m ready to dive in and learn more about energy,” Short added.

An internship with CLEER provided a launchpad for three previous CMC students.

Maisa Metcalf, who interned from October 2012 through January 2013, joined the CLEER staff in March 2013 as an energy consultant. During her internship, Metcalf helped with door-to-door outreach in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, and with residential coaching.

“The internship was essential to get me started on energy coaching, which is what I do now on a daily basis,” Metcalf said. “The training I received during the internship still is the foundation of my current building science knowledge.”

Robert Morrison, who interned in 2013, won the Colorado Mountain College Clean Energy Innovation award later that year. He went on to work as a facility manager for CMC and a sales rep for a solar installer.

Zac Sutherland interned with CLEER and Northern Colorado Clean Cities in 2014, helping people learn about alternative fuel vehicles, along with electric vehicle charging and CNG fueling infrastructure.

Sutherland made presentations to groups, hosted a table at the Grand Junction Energy Expo, presented at CMC’s annual Sustainability Conference and helped CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy organize the successful EV Rally of the Rockies.

He joined the Garfield County Public Health staff as an environmental health specialist in April 2015, where he works in strategic planning, communications and managing a waste tire disposal program. Later that year, Sutherland volunteered to be one of the electric vehicle experts for the Rifle EV Ride and Drive, hosted by Garfield Clean Energy.

“My CLEER internship gave me tangible work to go along with my resume,” said Sutherland.

“The EV Buyer’s Guide, catering to local car dealerships, showed my ability to get complex information across in an appealing way. CLEER gave me an opportunity to demonstrate my public speaking ability. Most of all, much like my time at CLEER, no two days are exactly alike in Public Health. CLEER gave me the opportunity to show my adaptability, which is important to potential employers,” he added.

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Legislative Roundup

Legislators address costs of carbon emissions,
Clean Power Plan, alternative fuels


CLEER is tracking 22 bills moving through the Colorado Legislature that are related to clean energy issues. Updates for the bills are posted on the Garfield Clean Energy website’s Legislative page.

Here is a summary of the bills and their current status.

Colorado Climate Action Plan

House Bill 1004 would have required the state’s Climate Action Plan to include specific, measurable goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increase the state’s adaptability to climate change. Killed by the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on March 30.

Colorado’s response to the Federal Clean Power Plan

Senate Bill 46 would have required the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to seek a two-year extension for its work on a state response to the federal Clean Power Plan. It would also have required the Legislature’s approval before the plan was submitted to the federal government.
Killed by the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on March 17.

Senate Bill 157, introduced March 15 by the SB 46 sponsors, calls on the state government to suspend its work on the state Climate Action Plan until the U.S. Supreme Court lifts its stay on the federal Clean Power Plan. Passed in the Senate; killed by the House Transportation and Energy Committee on April 27.

Renewable Energy

Senate Bill 7 would have created an incentive for utilities to use biomass to generate electricity. Killed by House Transportation and Energy Committee on March 9.

House Bill 1207 would have required the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) to invest 1 percent of its funds in renewable energy companies. Killed by House Finance Committee on Feb. 24.

Clean Energy Financing

Senate Bill 171 modifies and clarifies the rules governing the New Energy Improvement District, which manages the state’s C-PACE commercial energy efficiency lending program. Passed the Senate April 1, passed the House April 25.

Water Conservation

House Bill 1005 is a second-year attempt to legalize residential use of rain barrels for outdoor watering. The bill passed the House March 4 and passed the Senate April 1.

Alternative Transportation Fuels

House Bill 1053 calls on the Division of Oil and Public Safety to develop rules governing the retail sales of hydrogen fuel. Passed the Legislature and signed by Gov. Hickenlooper on March 9.

House Bill 1298 includes a provision that increases the maximum legal gross weight limit for heavy duty alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric, CNG and propane, traveling on interstate and state highways by up to 2,000 pounds. The bill passed the House March 22 and passed the Senate April 19.

House Bill 1332 is an effort to further simplify the system for awarding state tax credits for purchases of alternative fuel vehicles, including CNG and electric vehicles. Passed the House April 25.

Transit and Transportation Policy

House Bill 1067 would have extended the time limit for any of the state’s five regional transportation authorities, including RFTA, to seek voter approval to impose a property tax mill levy. The authority expires in 2019; the bill would have extended the deadline to 2029. Killed by Senate Transportation Committee March 8.

Senate Bill 11 would have barred CDOT’s use use of state FASTER funds for transit projects, such as the popular Bustang service. Killed by House Transportation and Energy Committee Feb. 17.

HB 1303 prohibits regional transportation authorities from imposing sales tax on vacant lands annexed by a nonmember jurisdiction. The House Local Government Committee passed the bill April 6.

House Bill 1304 calls on CDOT to host community conversations this year on transportation priorities in each of its planning regions, seeking public input on transportation priorities and the preferred means for funding them. The bill passed the House April 25.

Senate Bill 194, the Regional Transportation Development Act, allows local governments to initiate transportation or transit projects that would aid commercial development in the new transportation corridor. The act authorizes the local government to issue bonds, backed by state sales tax revenues from the area to be developed. Introduced April 20, the bill is assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Energy Utilities

Senate Bill 55 clarifies rules for rural electric co-op board elections. Passed the Legislature and signed by Gov. Hickenlooper on March 23.

Senate Bill 61 would require the Public Utilities Commission to create a “ratepayer protection program” so any increased costs to electric utilities to comply with new federal carbon emission standards would not be passed along to customers. Instead, the state’s Stationary Sources Control Fund would cover those costs. Passed by the Senate April 6, killed by the House Transportation and Energy Committee April 27.

House Bill 1441 would require the Public Utilities Commission to consider the costs of greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generation when considering a utility's proposal for resource planning. It specifically directs the PUC to consider the likelihood of future regulations governing greenhouse gas emissions, and to weigh the present and future costs of emissions based on national and regional carbon markets. Passed by the House Transportation and Energy Committee April 27.

House Bill 1447, introduced April 27 with broad bi-partisan support, clarifies and codifies the exemption from state sales and use tax for residential energy, such as electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, wood and coal, for all residential properties, including mutli-family complexes that may be billed under a single meter. The bill passed the House Finance Committee on April 28.

Economic Development

Senate Bill 81 creates a $2 million program for the Department of Local Affairs to assist rural communities that experience plant closures or industry-wide layoffs. Under consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Radon Mitigation

House Bill 1141 directs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a statewide radon education program for residents, real estate professionals and builders, along with a program to assist low-income households with radon mitigation measures. Signed into law by Gov. Hickenlooper April 21.

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Colorado Energy Office receives $1.1 million
USDA agriculture award


Award to incentivize agriculture energy efficiency improvements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a $1.1 million grant to the Colorado Energy Office to help finance energy efficiency improvements for Colorado farmers.

The award comes through USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service's Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and is matched through a $1.3 million cash and in-kind combined contribution from CEO, the Colorado Department of Agriculture and utility and industry partners.

The funds will help finance energy and water saving projects identified through CEO's Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Program. Over the two-year grant period, the efficiency improvements are expected to achieve more than 5,250 megawatt-hours of electricity savings and 524,000 gallons of water savings annually, and will provide additional environmental benefits to Colorado's agricultural producers.

"Over the last two years the Colorado Energy Office laid the foundation and identified significant opportunities for cost-effective energy savings in Colorado's agriculture industry,” said Jeff Ackermann, director of the Colorado Energy Office.”Having USDA on-board as a funding partner helps overcome the upfront investment barrier so farmers can affordably build out projects that can provide long-term savings.”

In 2015, CEO launched the Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Program to provide agricultural producers free energy audits and technical assistance designed to select and implement cost-effective improvements that will reduce energy, water and operating costs.

To date, 63 producers have participated and 2,800 megawatt-hours of potential electricity savings have been identified through the audits. The program will expand to 200 producers during the next two years and is expected to generate over $4.5 million in potential savings in the next five years.

"This grant will enable the implementation of cost-effective projects identified through Colorado's statewide program, while meeting our goal to integrate energy conservation into agricultural practices," said Clint Evans, state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Colorado's agriculture industry faces direct energy expenses of more than $400 million annually, which accounts for 7 percent of the industry's overall expenses, according to CEO's 2013 Agricultural Energy Market Research Report.

The report identifies 90,000 megawatt-hours of potential electricity savings annually and identifies dairies and irrigators as the most energy intense sectors with the greatest opportunity for savings.

For more information about the statewide Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Program, contact Michael Turner at michael.a.turner@state.co.us.

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

Landlord’s lighting initiative creates ‘calm environment’ in office buildings

Let's go! Ride Garfield County starts Sunday

CARE offers free home energy upgrades for income-qualified families

Rifle-area fleets invited to CNG luncheon meeting

CLEER internships a path to success

Legislators address costs of carbon emissions, Clean Power Plan

Colorado Energy Office receives $1.1 million USDA agriculture award

State rolls out website devoted to electric vehicles

It’s time to turn off roof heat tape

ACEEE report: “Energy burden” up to
3x higher for low-income households

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 news@cleanenergyeconomy.net


Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy program

CARE offers free home energy upgrades for
income-qualified families

Thanks to another round of funding from Energy Outreach Colorado, the CARE program continues to accept new applications from households in Garfield County.

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

“Energy efficiency upgrades are the best way to reduce your utility bills,” said CLEER Energy Coach Maisa Metcalf.

So far this year, 26 households have taken advantage of this service.

Learn more about CARE, including income eligibility levels, here.

Contact CLEER if you are interested in this opportunity, or share this information with someone you know who would benefit from lower energy bills.

(970) 704-9200
info@cleanenergyeconomy.net


Charge Ahead Colorado website

State rolls out website devoted to electric vehicles

Charge Ahead Colorado tells the truth about EVs on the journey to energy independence

The Colorado Energy Office is serious about electric vehicles -- even though one of the key selling points is that these quiet, super-efficient vehicles are lots of fun to drive. To get the message out, CEO has launched a new website devoted to electric vehicles: ChargeAheadColorado.com .

The new site tackles myths about range anxiety, and provides a link to find over 150 charging stations in the Denver metro area alone.

It mentions workplace charging opportunities and provides links to charging stations. It also addresses myths about EVs performance, cost, and points to the state and federal tax credits available to Colorado consumers.

The website includes a downloadable tax credit guide that walks the EV buyer through the process of claiming state and federal tax credits on an EV purchase.

Check out the site here.

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heat tape

It’s time to turn off roof
and gutter heat tape

Using heat tape after the snow melts is a waste of electricity

April is the month to turn off heat tape, since rooftops are melted out and spring snowfall melts quickly.

Typical heat tape burns electricity at six to nine watts per foot per hour, according to Eileen Wysocki, energy auditor for Holy Cross Energy. That means each 100 feet of heat tape operating 24/7 can add $41 to $62 to a monthly electric bill.

Once a home or building’s roof is melted out, heat tape should be switched off.

Wysocki said every summer she finds homeowners and businesses who are paying high electric bills because they forgot to turn off the heat tape.

She recommends marking the calendar for mid-April to turn off heat tape at the breaker switch.

Installing a heat tape timer can automate this seasonal change. A heat tape timer can help make the system run more efficiently when it's needed during the winter months, and turns it off automatically when it's not needed.

As an alternative to a timer, conscientious homeowners can install a heat tape system with a manual toggle switch so they can easily turn on the tape only when it’s needed, and switch it off later.

For more information about how to maximize the energy efficiency of heat tape through the use of automated heat tape timers, visit the Garfield Clean Energy website.

(Believe it or not, the heat tape info page is the most popular page on the Garfield Clean Energy website. Many other websites link to it as the best source on efficient heat tape operation.)

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ACEEE report: "Energy burden" up to three times higher for low-income households

CLEER's local CARE program aimed at helping reduce energy costs for income-qualified families

An "energy burden" review of 48 major U.S. metropolitan areas finds that low-income households devote up to three times as much income to energy costs as do other, higher-income households.

The new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Energy Efficiency for All coalition also finds that African-American and Latino households spend disproportionate amounts of their income on energy.

The report also finds that energy efficiency upgrades would help close the gap by at least one-third.

While the study focused on 48 metro areas, CLEER has found that similar trends exist in rural communities. To address this problem, CLEER and its partners are offering the CARE program to provide a package of energy efficiency upgrades for income-qualified households in Garfield County. The program served 57 households in 2015 and has already served 26 this year.

CARE is a joint project between CLEER, Energy Outreach Colorado, Garfield Clean Energy, energy utilities, CORE and other community organizations in seven northwest Colorado counties.

Key findings from the ACEEE report, "Lifting the High Energy Burdens in America's Largest Cities: How Energy Efficiency Can Improve Low-Income and Underserved Communities," include:

> On average, low-income households pay 7.2 percent of household income for utilities, more than three times the average of 2.3 percent paid by higher income households.

> Raising the energy efficiency of low-income housing to the efficiency level of the average U.S. home would eliminate 35 percent of the average energy burden of low-income households.

> Renter households also have higher energy burdens. Renters pay almost 20 percent more per square foot for energy utilities than homeowners, indicating that they live in less efficient homes.

"Families who face higher energy burdens experience many negative long-term effects on their health and well-being. These families are at greater risk for respiratory diseases and increased stress, and they can experience increased economic hardship and difficulty in moving out of poverty,” said Ariel Drehobl, ACEEE research analyst and lead report author.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Voces Verdes also participated in the report.

"Increasing the energy efficiency of Latino households to the median level could cut their excess energy burdens by as much as a whopping 68 percent, putting more money in their pockets for things like food and medical expenses,” said Adrianna Quintero, executive director of Voces Verdes.

View the full report here.

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IN THE NEWS

PBS News Hour, March 28, 2016
Turning poop into power,
not pollution

Renewable natural gas from cattle feedlots, restaurant food waste and Grand Junction’s wastewater treatment plant is the focus of this 7-minute news report from Rocky Mountain PBS, aired on the PBS News Hour on March 28.

Grand Junction’s methane capture project is unique, because the renewable natural gas is piped to the city’s compressed natural gas fueling facility, where it’s used to fuel the city’s dump trucks, street sweepers, refuse trucks and transit buses.

Joanna Underwood, president of Energy Vision, a New York City-based nonprofit that promotes renewable natural gas, explains that this largely untapped resource could replace half of all the diesel fuel consumed today in the U.S.

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US energy production over time

Today in Energy, April 18, 2016
U.S. energy production increases for sixth consecutive year

Total U.S. energy production increased for the sixth consecutive year.

According to data in EIA's most recent Monthly Energy Review, energy production reached a record 89 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), equivalent to 91% of total U.S. energy consumption.

Liquid fuels production drove the increase, with an 8% increase for crude oil and a 9% increase for natural gas plant liquids. Natural gas production increased 5%. These gains more than offset a 10% decline in coal production.

The U.S. saw little change in production from nuclear electric power and all types of renewable energy in 2015. However, the sources of renewable electricity shifted, as declines in hydropower were mostly offset by increases from wind and solar.

Read more

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United Nations Climate Action,
April 18, 2016
Colorado ranks 9th nationally for solar energy

Solar jobs rising 12 times faster than U.S. economy

Solar Energy Industries Association has announced the leading states for solar power as of March 2016. The new research ranks the top 10 states, based on cumulative solar capacity installed.

California has comfortably topped the list with 13,241 megawatts of installed solar energy capacity, capable of powering an estimated 3.3 million households.

Colorado ranked ninth on the list with a total of 540 megawatts. Spending for solar projects increased in Colorado by 44 percent from 2014 to 2015, reaching $305 million in 2015.

Solar power is creating jobs nationwide at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall U.S. economy, SEIA reported. The nation’s solar workforce grew by more than 20 per cent in 2015, for the third year in a row.

Read more

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Denver Business Journal
April 12, 2016
Xcel, Vestas to build Colorado's biggest wind farm

300 turbines to produce
600 megawatts of power

Xcel Energy is teaming up with Vestas Wind Systems to build Colorado's largest wind farm, a huge 600-megawatt project in eastern Colorado.

David Eves, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of Colorado, Xcel's subsidiary in the state, announced the plan April 12 at the Vestas wind-turbine nacelles factory in Brighton.

Vestas will build the 300 turbines for the project, Eves said. The 600 megawatt wind farm is expected to produce enough power to meet the needs of about 180,000 homes in Colorado.

Read more

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Argonne National Laboratory
April 8, 2016
Argonne Labs case study: Idling by emergency
service vehicles

A new case study published by Argonne National Laboratory explores the use of idle reduction technologies for emergency service vehicles such as police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances.

Various commercially available idle-reduction systems and approaches can decrease, or ultimately eliminate, engine idling.

Emergency fleets can save money on fuel, and reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and noise.

Argonne’s case study looks at nine emergency fleets, including police departments in Dallas, Raleigh, N.C., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., the Poulsbo, Wash., Fire Department, the Santa Barbara County, Calif., Sheriff’s Office, ambulance services in Poulsbo, Austin, Texas, and Vermont, along with the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineering Center.

Click here to download the 36-page report, “Idle Reduction Technologies for Emergency Service Vehicles.”

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