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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

June 29, 2016, Vol. 9, No. 5

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Commercial PACE Financing Workshop this Thursday

New statewide financing option available; counties must opt in

C-PACE logoTracy Phillips, director of the Colorado C-PACE commercial financing program, is the featured speaker at a workshop about putting Colorado’s C-PACE program to work in Western Slope counties.

The free workshop is this Thursday, June 30, from 8 to 10 a.m. at Colorado Mountain College, 1402 Blake Ave. in Glenwood Springs. To register, click here.

C-PACE, or Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, is a mechanism that provides 100 percent up-front financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation measures in commercial and agricultural properties, and multi-family housing.

Tracy Phillips

Tracy Phillips

Low interest rates and 20-year finance terms allow property owners to use the savings from energy and water upgrades to cover loan payments for an overall positive cash flow.

C-PACE enabling legislation was passed by the Colorado legislature in 2014, with additional details worked out in this year’s session. To date, Adams County and Boulder County have opted in; Eagle County is close to opting in, and multiple other counties have completed initial reviews.

Commercial and agricultural property owners, municipal representatives and contractors working in energy efficiency and renewable energy are encouraged to attend and learn how C-PACE works. Phillips and representatives of local organizations will also explain the steps needed to activate C-PACE in Western Slope counties.

The workshop is sponsored by CLEER, Garfield Clean Energy, CORE and Energy Smart Colorado.
To register, click here.

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Colorado Bike to Work Day in Glenwood Springs

Tim Walker, Jill Nicole and Rebecca Murray attended Colorado Bike to Work Day in Glenwood Springs. Photo by Karen Wahrmund.

Colorado Bike to Work Day inspires hundreds of riders

Breakfast stations in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs
part of statewide event

Colorado’s annual Bike to Work Day brought out hundreds of riders in the Roaring Fork Valley on June 22, including many who stopped at breakfast stations in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs to nosh and celebrate.

Carbondale Bike to Work Day

RFTA assistant planner Jason White serves coffee to people attending Colorado Bike to Work Day at the RFTA Carbondale Park and Ride.

The breakfast station at RFTA’s Carbondale Park and Ride attracted about 200 bike and bus riders, who stopped in for coffee, sweets and swag. RFTA staffers Jason White and Jennifer Balmes organized the event, and helped some riders learn how to load their bikes on a RFTA bus for multi-modal mobility.

In Glenwood Springs, a breakfast station jointly hosted by CLEER, Garfield Clean Energy, the City of Glenwood Springs and the Glenwood Springs Branch Library brought in riders for burritos, doughnuts, coffee and juice.

Attendees ranged from local riders and commuters who biked from Carbondale to construction workers seeking refuge from the sun and a burrito. Many of them met Tanya Allen, the new transportation manager for the City of Glenwood Springs, who was on the scene to meet people and hand out breakfast items.

It was the second Bike to Work Day for Glenwood Springs this year, after celebrating National Bike to Work Day on May 20.

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Ride Garfield County sets new goal of 50,000 miles

County riders more than doubled original goal in less than two months

Ride Garfield County, the county-wide campaign for bike and bus riding, has more than doubled its mileage goal, with 85 riders logging 22,661 miles on the National Bike Challenge website from May 1 to June 28.

Ride Garfield County

“Our goal was 10,000 miles,” said event organizer Karen Wahrmund of CLEER. “We seriously underestimated the appetite for cycling in Garfield County. We’ve now amped up our goal to hit 50,000 miles by Sept. 30.”

“We also set a goal of 400 riders, and we are almost halfway to that goal with 195 riders,” Wahrmund said. “Everyone who rides a bicycle can get involved. It’s definitely not too late to get registered.”

Ride Garfield County and the National Bike Challenge run from May 1 to Sept. 30. All outdoor cycling miles logged by registered riders count, and additional points stack up every time a rider gets on their bike and logs miles.

Riders compete locally as individuals and as teams, and miles ridden by everyone registered in the Ride Garfield County challenge add together to compete nationally.

As of June 28, the top five riders for Ride Garfield County, all of Glenwood Springs, are:

John Currier, 1,263 miles
Eric Kuhn, 1,215 miles
Greg Wetzel, 1,111 miles
Patti Holt, 807 miles
Ken Keister, 598 miles

Most local riders are affiliated with one of 15 teams. As of June 28, the top five local teams for mileage are:

Colorado River District (CRWCD), 16 riders, 4,829 miles
Team Kiwanis, 14 riders, 4,782 miles
Holy Cross Riders, 16 riders, 3,095 miles
SGM, 32 riders, 2,314 miles
Colorado Mountain College, 2,078 miles

Other registered teams are Nirad and Re Pedaling Partners, Garfield County with Friends and Family, Post Independent Fair and Balanced Riders, Old Slow Guys and a Spunky Girl, Tandem2Some, Energy Resource Center, Garfield County Libraries, Third Street Center and the U.S. Forest Service Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.

The challenge is being tracked on the National Bike Challenge website, where thousands of riders and hundreds of teams across the country are logging their bike-riding miles.

The national leader is Amanda Coker of Deerfield Beach, Fla. She’s ridden 10,458 miles since May 1.

In Colorado, 6,319 riders are participating. The state ranks No. 3 in nation with 619,178 miles logged as of June 28.

For the national rankings, the National Bike Challenge website calculates miles ridden by all riders registered for an “advocacy challenge,” such as Ride Garfield County, to set a points score.

In this ranking, Ride Garfield is in 67th place nationally.

“We would love to see more riders logging more miles to improve our national standings,” Wahrmund said.

Click here to learn more about the Ride Garfield County Team Challenge. Get registered and riding today!

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Benton residence

Tyler Benton enjoys the view of downtown Glenwood Springs from the deck on his Spring Street condo. New insulation and efficient windows make the south-facing unit more comfortable in summer and winter. Photo by Kelley Cox

Condo goes from sweltering to sunny and cool

Glenwood Springs resident uses energy incentives
to improve comfort, cut costs

Allyn Harvey
Clean Energy Economy News

Tyler Benton knew exactly what he wanted to do when he bought his Glenwood Springs condominium overlooking the Colorado River in 2013.

The young professional had been living in a neighboring unit at 503 Spring Street for three years, and was well aware of the upgrade potential in the building.

Benton’s electric bills were through the roof, since the building is heated and powered only by electricity, including electric baseboard heaters.

A leaky building exterior made things worse. Air from outside seeped in through outlets and seals around the windows. South-facing 1979-era glass windows couldn’t hold in warmth in the winter, and when it was hot outside, it was sweltering inside. It was time for some real work.

“Before, in the middle of summer you would walk in and it was uncomfortably hot in the unit,” Benton said. “And there is no air conditioning in the building.”

The work included new windows, new insulation, and sealing up all those places where air can leak in. Coaching from energy experts at Garfield Clean Energy connected him with qualified contractors, significant rebates and a state program that allowed him to fold some of the costs into a refinanced mortgage.

Benton’s condo is perched on the hillside behind the Hot Springs Lodge and the Hotel Colorado. His unit is three stories, with a two-car garage on the bottom, a guest suite in the middle, and Benton’s living space on top. A wall of windows face south with a great view of Red Mountain and downtown Glenwood Springs.

Benton started by gutting the top floor. He stripped it to the studs, so he could install insulation and replace the wood paneling with drywall. He replaced the old windows and sliding glass door with double-paned, energy-efficient windows and a slider. He also replaced the windows on the condo’s north side, next to the front door and in the master bedroom.

He air sealed around the new windows and electric outlets on exterior walls, and around internal doors that separate the three levels of the condominium.

In terms of comfort, the pay off was immediate. The upgrades moderated the temperature swings, keeping in the cool morning air during hot summer days, and allowing him to go longer before turning on the heat in the winter.

“The new windows help to keep the cool air in. In the winter, you don’t get as much energy loss. It has definitely helped to regulate the temperature,” Benton said.

He paid for that first round of investments with money he’d saved for the purchase of his first home.

Then he read an article in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent about free energy consulting offered through Garfield Clean Energy and rebate programs for energy efficiency upgrades offered by Glenwood Springs Electric and CORE.

Garfield Clean Energy (GCE) is a joint effort of Garfield County, the six cities and towns in the county, plus the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Colorado Mountain College. GCE contracts with CLEER, the Carbondale-based clean energy organization, to provide residents and businesses in Garfield County with free energy consulting to make smart choices about energy upgrades, evaluate contractor bids, and maximize available rebates.

Benton learned about Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER too late for the top floor projects, but he still had a lot of work to do on the second-floor suite.

With free consulting from Maisa Metcalf, a CLEER energy expert, Benton got a home energy assessment by EnergyWise Consultants of Grand Junction. The assessment included a blower door test, and an inspection of the electric hot water heater, which was failing. The assessment report showed what upgrades made the most sense for the second floor studio.

Benton residence

Tyler Benton shows the new electric hot water heater in his all-electric condo on Spring Street in North Glenwood Springs. The new water heater was one of several upgrades he made to increase the comfort and energy efficiency of his home. Photo by Kelley Cox

The projects included replacing the windows and sliding glass door, taking down the wood paneling on the exterior wall to insulate behind it, replacing the 17-year-old hot water heater, and insulating the new heater and hot water piping.

Metcalf helped Benton connect with contractors to do the work. DM Neuman Construction, West Valley Insulation of Silt and AAA Mechanical Group of Glenwood Springs carried out the projects, meeting the energy efficiency requirements necessary for Benton to obtain rebates.

“I’m just glad they exist,” Benton about the help he got from Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER. “It creates an opportunity for all of us who live in the valley.”

Costs saved on electric bills, rebates, refinancing

Overall, Benton has seen a 15 percent reduction in his condo’s average annual electricity usage as a result of all the work he’s done. Given that Glenwood Springs Electric, his sole energy utility, has had to raise rates by 20 percent over the last two years, his savings and avoided costs have been significant.

Even with lower electric bills, Benton was concerned about how he would pay for it all, since he had recently invested in major upgrades on the top floor.

Metcalf directed Benton to the Colorado Energy Savings Mortgage incentive. It’s a state program that has helped home buyers or homeowners who refinance their mortgage buy down the cost of energy efficiency upgrades. He happened to be refinancing at the time, and was able to take advantage $2,500 saving though this program.

The Energy Savings Mortgage incentive program is ending soon, but other mortgage incentives are still available, as well as Garfield Clean Energy’s residential revolving loan program.

Benton also received $1,400 in rebates for the home energy assessment, insulation and hot water heater from Glenwood Springs Electric and CORE, offsetting about 40 percent of his costs for those projects. He was able to fold the remaining out-of-pocket costs into his refinanced mortgage.

“I was excited to be able to take advantage of those programs,” Benton said. “They allowed me to do more with the project than I otherwise would have.”

Benton residence

Tyler Benton relaxes in the living room of his Spring Street condo. New energy efficient windows let in fresh air on mild days, but prevent the room from overheating in summer or getting too chilly in winter. Photo by Kelley Cox

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Four smart steps to a cool home

Insulation, ventilation, lighting and evaporative cooling
keep homes comfortable on hot summer days

If your home feels like a toaster on hot summer days, follow these four smart steps to achieve cool comfort.

Step 1: Insulation and air sealing

We usually think of insulation to help conserve heat in the winter, but insulation combined with air sealing will also keep your home much more cool in the summer.

Air-sealing with caulk and spray foam will seal up cracks, while weather stripping makes windows and doors close tightly. Air sealing will also improve your home’s durability, and create a healthier indoor environment.

Insulation in the attic, walls and along basement or crawl space walls reduces the flow of heat through your home’s exterior. In winter, insulation keeps the heat inside. In summer, insulation keeps the heat outside and protects your cool indoor air.

Together, air sealing and insulation provide the most cost-effective first step for making your home stay cool. You will enjoy the benefits of better insulation year-round.

home cooling

Step 2: Ventilation fans

Electric fans were invented in the 1880s. More than a century later, they remain an affordable and energy efficient way to move air inside your home and bring in cool outside air. Today’s fan technology can deliver a lot more cooling while adding just pennies per day to your electric bill.

Whole house fans pull cool evening and nighttime air in through open windows and exhaust the day’s hot, stuffy air out through vents in the attic and roof. In much of western Colorado, where nighttime temps fall below 70 degrees, a whole house fan operating in a well-insulated home can meet cooling needs even on the hottest days.

Step 3: Energy efficient lighting

You know from experience that incandescent light bulbs get hot once they’ve been on for a while. They keep radiating heat while they are on. In the summer, the heat from incandescent light bulbs adds to the heat in your home.

LED bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs generate a fraction of the heat, and use about one-quarter of the energy compared to incandescents. (They also last far longer and cost far less to operate.)

Check all the lamps and fixtures in your home and swap out all those heat-producing incandescents for cool, energy-saving LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs. These bulbs can be on for hours and they will never get hot to the touch.

Step 4: Cooling system upgrade

If you have followed Steps 1, 2 and 3 and your home is still uncomfortably hot, then it’s time to look for an energy efficient cooling system. Models on the market today are much more efficient even than those sold 10 years ago, delivering a lot more cooling for fewer dollars.

Evaporative cooling is the most affordable and energy efficient option. These systems use the cooling power of water evaporation to drop the temperature of air by 15 to 40 degrees. Evaporative cooling is very effective in Colorado’s dry climate.

Evaporative coolers use less than one-third the energy of air conditioners, and cost about half as much to install. These systems use no refrigerants that can harm Earth’s ozone layer, and they operate more quietly than air conditioners.

Air conditioning is the highest-cost way to cool your home, for installation and operation. In some homes, it’s still necessary, so choose a high-efficiency model to reduce energy costs and increase home comfort. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20 to 40 percent on cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.

Proper sizing, unit location and expert installation are all key for home cooling units to achieve high energy efficiency while delivering cooling comfort.

Click here to view Garfield Clean Energy’s complete online home cooling fact sheet.

Click here to download the two-page, printer-friendly home cooling fact sheet.

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In this issue

Commercial PACE Financing Workshop set for this Thursday

Colorado Bike to Work Day inspires hundreds of riders

Ride Garfield County sets new goal of 50,000 miles by Sept. 30

Condo goes from sweltering to sunny and cool

Four smart steps to a cool home


Save the Date: Proof Is Possible tiny home tour


State agencies seek your opinion on biking and walking

Community solar array installed in Delta

Good vibrations: No heat needed for ultrasonic clothes dryer

DOE charts progress on SunShot Initiative goals

DOE announces single-pane window efficiency projects

Pitkin County eyes Rifle solar array

The Temperature Spiral has an update

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


Proof Is Possible tour

Save the Date:
Proof Is Possible
tiny home tour to stop in Carbondale Sept. 12

Grace and Corbett Lunsford and their high performance tiny house on wheels will stop in Carbondale on Sept. 12, offering tours of the tiny house and workshops for homeowners, builders and contractors. The couple is on a nine-month tour of the country, taking their message of diagnostic-based home energy efficiency to 25 cities.

In Carbondale, their visit is sponsored by About Saving Heat, a company that provides home energy assessments, insulation, air sealing and energy-efficient cooling solutions from offices in Carbondale, Silverthorne and Denver.

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State agencies seek your opinion on biking and walking

Online survey results to inform statewide economic impact study

Three state agencies are teaming up to conduct a survey to learn about the bicycling and walking habits of state residents, and to collect opinions about accessibility of bicycling and walking in communities.

By completing the online survey, you can give these state agencies valuable information they can use to promote and improve bicycling and walking in Colorado. The findings will be presented in a statewide economic impact study to be released this fall.

Sponsoring agencies are the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Click here to access the online survey.

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Community solar array installed in Delta

Clean electricity to help 45 families save on their electric bills

GRID Alternatives, the nonprofit that develops solar arrays to benefit low-income households, teamed up with state and local partners this month to build a 150-kilowatt solar array in Delta. The electricity it produces will help lower electric bills for about 45 families.

Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA), Colorado Energy Office, Solar Energy International and Delta County School District 50J worked with GRID to fund and organize the project, and the array was installed June 3 by SEI and Delta High School students using GRID’s barn-raising model.

It’s part of a statewide initiative to demonstrate how community solar can reduce energy costs for low-income utility customers -- those who spend more than 4 percent of their income on utility bills.

"Today we are symbolically and literally breaking new ground, as this will soon be the largest community solar array in the nation dedicated solely to low-income households,” said Colorado Energy Office Director Jeff Ackermann. “We look forward to additional rural utility projects coming this summer."

CEO awarded a $1.2 million grant to GRID in 2015 to partner with several Colorado utilities for low-income community solar across Colorado.

"This community solar installation with DMEA will be GRID's largest solar project developed to date,” said GRID Executive Director Chuck Watkins. “Offsetting the energy burden for low-income families has never been done at this scale, and we are excited to be working with great partners like DMEA to bring these impacts to fruition.”

"As a member-owned cooperative, our true purpose is to improve the quality of life for our members and the communities they live in,” said DMEA Chief Executive Officer Jason Bronec. “Our affordable community solar array helps further this purpose by providing access to local renewable energy for members that are often underserved."

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Good vibrations: No heat needed for ultrasonic clothes dryers

Household appliance gets first energy efficiency upgrade in decades

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are changing the way Americans do laundry, using vibration instead of heat to dry their clothes.

The ultrasonic clothes dryer is expected to dry clothes in half the time and use 70 percent less energy than today’s products, saving American consumers money on their energy bills.

With support from the U.S. Energy Department’s Building Technologies Office, Oak Ridge and GE Appliances are applying this technology to a press dryer and clothes dryer drum within the next five months.

“This is going to be a game-changing technology,” said Ayyoub Momen, the Oak Ridge scientist who developed the prototype. “Clothes dryers consume a lot of energy."

Nearly 80 percent of U.S. households have clothes dryers. Combined, they consume 4 percent of all residential electricity, and cost Americans nearly $9 billion per year on their utility bills.

Dryers remain costly to operate because they rely on an inefficient process that hasn’t seen significant innovation in decades: using electricity to heat the air and evaporate the water out of clothes.

For the complete story, see the EERE Blog.

Watch the 2 ½ minute video.

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DOE charts progress on SunShot Initiative goals

The U.S. Energy Department on May 18 released the On the Path to SunShot reports, a series of eight research papers examining the state of the U.S. solar energy industry and progress toward the SunShot Initiative’s goal to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by 2020.

The U.S. has over 10 times more solar capacity installed today compared to when the SunShot Initiative was launched in 2011, and the overall costs of solar have dropped by 65 percent. The solar industry is currently about 70 percent of the way toward achieving the Initiative’s 2020 goals.

The SunShot Initiative was created with the goal to reduce the cost of solar energy technologies by 75 percent within a decade across the residential, commercial, and utility-scale sectors.

The new reports explore the lessons learned in the first five years of the 10-year initiative, and identify key research, development, and market opportunities that can help to ensure that solar energy technologies are widely affordable and available to power millions more American homes and businesses.

The On the Path to SunShot series was developed in collaboration with leading researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

See the Energy Department news release.

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DOE announces single-pane window efficiency projects

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $31 million in funding for 14 projects under the new Single-Pane Highly Insulating Efficient Lucid Design (SHIELD) program.

SHIELD project teams are developing innovative window coatings and windowpanes that could significantly improve the energy efficiency of existing single-pane windows in commercial and residential buildings.

ARPA-E’s SHIELD program will accelerate the development of materials that could cut in half the amount of heat lost through single-pane windows without replacing the full window.

Complete replacement of single-pane windows with efficient, modern windows is not always feasible due to cost, changes in appearance and other concerns.

Retrofitting, rather than replacing single-pane windows, can reduce heat loss and save roughly the amount of electricity needed to power 32 million U.S. homes each year.

ARPA-E has allocated $8 million of the total $31 million to three small business projects through its Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program.

For example, the University of Colorado Boulder is developing a flexible, transparent window film that can be applied onto single-pane windows.

See the Energy Department news release.

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County eyes Rifle solar array

Aspen Times
June 7, 2016

Pitkin County commissioners preliminarily approved investing $313,000 in a solar array at the Garfield County Airport in Rifle.

The county would buy 873 solar panels in the No. 4 Array at the airport, which is connected to the Holy Cross Energy grid, according to a memo from County Engineer G.R. Fielding. The panels would produce an estimated 98 kilowatts. The array is operated by the Clean Energy Collective.

The county would pay $3.20 per watt under terms of the 20-year contract, which would pay for itself in 14 to 15 years thanks to Holy Cross energy credits, Fielding said.

Read the whole story.

temperature spiral
The Temperature Spiral Has an Update. It’s Not Pretty

Climate Central
May 31, 2016

The temperature spiral that took the world by storm earlier this spring has an update - a graphic spiral illustration of global temps from 1850 to 2100. If you think the heat is on in our current climate, you haven’t seen anything yet.

University of Reading climate scientist Ed Hawkins swept the internet with a new way to look at global temperatures.

Using a circular graph of every year’s monthly temperatures and animating it, Hawkins’ image shows planetary heat spiraling closer to the 2-degree Celsius threshold in a way no bar or line graph could do.

See the animation here.

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