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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

August 9, 2016, Vol. 9, No. 6

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Garfield Clean Energy and Xcel Energy
to collaborate as “Partners In Energy”

August 11 workshop launches two-year, countywide energy efficiency and renewable energy review, planning and implementation

Allyn Harvey
Clean Energy Economy News

The communities, businesses and residents of Garfield County are well ahead of the curve when it comes to embracing energy efficiency and alternative sources of energy, thanks to Garfield Clean Energy.

Xcel Energy Partners in EnergyIn the coming months they can expect to see more opportunities come to light through participation in Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy, a two-year effort to craft and begin implementation of a county-wide energy efficiency and renewable energy plan.

Partners in Energy provides communities in Colorado (and Minnesota) free services to develop an energy plan and assistance implementing it, according to the Xcel Energy website. The program, first introduced in 2014, brings the expertise of Xcel Energy together with local partners to build a plan tailored to a community.

Garfield Clean Energy was selected this year to participate in Partners in Energy, which means that Xcel Energy will work with local stakeholders to create and implement a plan that builds on the energy efficiency and renewable energy programs already offered by GCE and partner utilities.

Garfield Clean Energy is a clean energy collaborative consisting of all the towns/cities in Garfield County, Garfield County government, Roaring Fork Transit Authority and Colorado Mountain College. Xcel Energy provides energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states.

“Just like many areas across the state, Garfield County recognizes the need to review how it uses energy and seek ways to become more efficient. Through Partners in Energy, we will collaborate with the county to develop a unique plan specific to its needs and long-term energy goals,” said Jerome Davis, regional vice president at Xcel Energy - Colorado.

Work begins August 11 with a Stakeholder Workshop at the New Castle Community Center, 423 W. Main Street. The workshop runs from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Two more stakeholder meetings will be scheduled later this year.

The Stakeholder Group will be comprised of a diverse set of community leaders, business owners, elected officials and economic development groups. It also includes representatives from the big organizations in the region, such as the Colorado River District. All of the utilities that provide energy services in Garfield County are participating, including Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and Black Hills Energy.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to work with Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and Black Hills Energy to assess progress to date, determine our most current baseline and develop the best strategy for reaching energy efficiency goals in the Garfield County,” said Stuart McArthur, Parachute town manager and Garfield Clean Energy board chair.

Stakeholders will be asked to help refine goals, identify priorities, develop strategies and create a plan of action to build on the existing energy efficiency and clean energy programs offered in our region.

Since 2009, programs offered by Garfield Clean Energy and partner utilities have helped over 600 homes and 240 businesses save approximately $700,000 every year on their utility bills, and install 4.5 megawatts of new renewables. More than 90 public buildings throughout the county track and manage energy use with CLEER’s Building Energy Navigator. Two gas stations in the county now offer compressed natural gas for fleets and individually owned vehicles and a third is to open later this year, thanks in part to seed support from Garfield Clean Energy.

Anyone interested in receiving ongoing updates about the planning effort or participating in the Stakeholder group please call CLEER at 704-9200 or email
CLEER is the local organization that manages energy efficiency and renewable energy programs for Garfield Clean Energy. For more information, visit  

About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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River District riders

Eric Kuhn, left, and John Currier, right, are the top two riders so far in the Ride Garfield County bike and bus riding challenge, and Jim Pokrandt, center, is in 7th place. All three work for the Colorado River District in Glenwood Springs.

Kuhn, Currier top Ride Garfield individual standings

Colorado River District colleagues neck-and-neck for top cycling mileage

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Eric Kuhn and John Currier, colleagues at the Colorado River District in Glenwood Springs, are friendly rivals for logging the most miles in Ride Garfield County. By each riding more than 2,200 miles since May 1, they are pushing their River District team to a second-place position behind Team Kiwanis.

Ride Garfield County

With 198 local riders logging 40,207 miles as of Aug. 4, the Ride Garfield countywide campaign has moved up to 9th place in the national standings for community bike-riding efforts in the National Bike Challenge.

Ride Garfield County, hosted by Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER, is a five-month countywide campaign to encourage bike and bus riding, and to help reduce traffic congestion. It runs through Sept. 30.

At the River District office near Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs, biking to work is a daily habit for Kuhn, Currier and many of their co-workers. Kuhn and Currier also spend extra evening and weekend time in the saddle.

Ride Garfield County rankings

May 1 to Aug. 4
Competition continues through Sept. 30

Individual leaders – top 12
Eric Kuhn, 2,287 miles
John Currier, 2,219 miles
Patti Holt, 1,628 miles
Joe O’Donnell, 1,481 miles
John Stephens, 1,444 miles
Steve Hunter, 1,304 miles
Jim Pokrandt, 1,273 miles
Sherrie Setterberg, 1,223 miles
Preston Seymour, 1,161 miles
James Gilliam, 1,132 miles
Ted Doll, 1,132 miles
Mary Wiener, 1,066 miles

Team leaders – top 6
Team Kiwanis, 16 riders, 10,014 miles
Colorado River District, 16 riders, 8,280 miles
Holy Cross Energy, 16 riders, 5,699 miles
Colorado Mountain College, 11 riders, 4,131 miles
SGM, 32 riders, 3,827 miles
Old Slow Guys and One Spunky Girl, 5 riders, 2,302 miles

Ride Garfield County totals: 198 riders, 40,207 miles, 9th place for communities

Colorado totals: 6,462 riders, 995,102 miles, 2nd place for states

National Bike Challenge totals: 43,636 riders, 17.2 million miles

“On my way home from work, I’ll ride out to Bair Ranch in Glenwood Canyon, or up to Carbondale on the Rio Grande Trail,” said Kuhn, 66, the River District’s general manager. “I try to ride 40 miles a day, four to five times a week.”

On the weekends, he rides both days with his wife, Sue, often pedaling to Basalt and back to Glenwood Springs with a stop for breakfast along the way. The couple also takes at least one lengthy bike tour each year. This year’s trip is a five-day loop along the Alberta-British Columbia border.

“You ride in a day the distance most people drive in an hour, so you see, you absorb where you are,” Kuhn said.

Currier, 59, the River District’s chief engineer, loves road biking and mountain biking. “My latest passion is riding a cyclo-cross bike on gravel roads, and mapping out crazy gravel century (100-mile) rides. Sometimes they’re fun, and sometimes they end up being beautiful places where I’ve carried my bike.”

He had already set a goal in January to ride 5,000 miles this year, after hitting his goals of 3,000 miles in 2014 and 4,000 miles in 2015. The friendly competition of Ride Garfield County prompts him to ride to work on the occasional day when he might have otherwise opted to drive.

Currier said he loves biking because it keeps him fit, and he experiences a strong connection between bicycling and brain power.

“If I go out and ride for an hour, my brain function after is definitely better. I like to think up creative water solutions when I’m riding,” Currier said.

His colleague Jim Pokrandt, currently 7th in the local rankings with 1,273 miles since May 1, said when he is road biking, he thinks about work and comes back to his desk with a high level of productivity.

Mountain biking is different, Pokrandt said. “All your problems go away, because you are concentrating, just trying to keep the rubber side down,” he said, describing the challenge of staying upright on a steep, rocky single-track trail.

What advice do these avid cyclists have for people who want to get started in the sport?

“Just do it,” said Pokrandt. Bike riding – along with walking your dog – are two of the best ways to get to know your community, he said.

Kuhn and Currier are both big fans of the Rio Grande Trail, a separated bike trail managed by RFTA that runs 40 miles from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. Currier advises people to drive to a Rio Grande trailhead and ride from there.

“Try that out before you try to ride in traffic,” he said. Once a rider builds confidence, they’ll discover what he has learned: “Riding a bike through town is far, far, far more pleasant than driving.”

It’s not too late to sign up for Ride Garfield County. It’s unlikely you’ll catch up with Kuhn and Currier, but every rider who participates helps to boost Ride Garfield’s standing in the national rankings. To get started, visit

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Eagle County solar project

Eagle County recently added a solar array to the Eagle River Center. The county government recently opted into C-PACE, which would have provided a financing option that would have allowed the work to be paid off over 20 years, instead of requiring a large upfront payment. C-PACE financing is available to businesses, multifamily residential complexes, agriculture and government. Photo courtesy Eagle County.

Eagle County first western county to opt in to C-PACE

Program offers property owners a new tool to pay for energy upgrades

Allyn Harvey
Clean Energy Economy News

Eagle County is the first county on the Western Slope to opt in to a state program that gives property owners another tool for making energy upgrades.

C-PACECommercial Property Assessed Clean Energy financing (C-PACE) is a financing mechanism that provides 100 percent up-front financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation measures in commercial and agricultural properties, multi-family housing, as well as with government- and nonprofit-owned structures.

The program allows property owners to pay for energy efficiency and other clean energy improvements to existing or new buildings through a voluntary assessment on their property tax bill. Low interest rates and 20-year finance terms are designed to allow owners to carry out projects with a positive cash flow.

What makes the C-PACE financing model unique is that lenders make a loan for the improvements that is attached to the property rather than a person or company. That means if someone invests in an apartment building or commercial property and then sells that property, the new owner will assume payments on the loan.

The program is designed to allow capital-intensive energy efficiency and alternative energy investments that may not otherwise be possible due to upfront costs. By attaching the loan to the property, lenders are assured they will be repaid.

“This gives commercial, nonprofit, government and multi-family residential owners another tool for making energy efficiency improvements,” says Adam Palmer, Eagle County’s Environmental Policy Planner. “That is very attractive part of the program for the county.”

As an example, Palmer pointed out that there are 270 multi-family residential complexes in Eagle County that are heated and powered with electricity only that would qualify for the program. Many such buildings tend to be older and in need of upgrades to insulation, windows, doors, seals, hot water heaters and other areas. Such upgrades can vastly improve comfort for residents and save money for owners and renters alike.

Adams, Boulder and Eagle counties are the first three to have officially opted into the program. The Colorado Energy Office has been working closely with counties around the state -- including Garfield, Mesa and Pitkin -- to encourage local action to take advantage of legislation that was finalized in May. Paul Scharfenberger, Director of Finance and Operations for the Colorado Energy Office, has said eight counties are currently engaged in opt-in discussions, with several on the Front Range close to taking final steps.

The state has done their homework and put together a well thought out program for counties to opt in—there really is no cost or liability to the county,” said Palmer from Eagle County.

Brian McCarter, CEO of Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Inc., the administrator of the C-PACE program, said energy savings often outweigh the annual payments on the loan, enabling cash-flow positive projects.

“C-PACE provides commercial and industrial building owners with an attractive way to finance capital intensive building modernization projects. The resulting energy savings typically outweigh the annual assessment payment, thereby enabling cash flow positive projects,” McCarter said.

C-PACE is also available for nonprofit-owned buildings and has a mechanism to assist local governments in financing upgrade, but it is not available for residential properties with less than five units.

Palmer says Eagle County has made energy investments in two of its properties lately that may have benefitted from C-PACE financing. One is a county-owned apartment building that received new boilers. The other is a 77 kilowatt solar electric project at the Eagle River Center, the 50,000-square-foot event building at the county fairgrounds.  He said the payback time on the solar project — the amount of time it takes to pay back the original investment through energy savings — is 11 to 12 years.

“If the county had funded its solar project through C-PACE, it could have been paid back over 20 years, with a net positive cash flow, eliminating the need for a large one-time investment from our current funds,” Palmer said.

The Eagle County commissioners had been considering joining C-PACE for at least six months now, according to Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney.

“It’s not something that costs the county or its taxpayers anything,” she said. “But it is a way to encourage energy efficiency and alternative energy investments. It is a tool that I hope property owners will use.”

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In this issue

Garfield Clean Energy and Xcel Energy to collaborate as “Partners In Energy”

Kuhn, Currier top Ride Garfield County individual standings

Eagle first western Colorado county to adopt C-PACE


Facilities Manager Roundtable set for Sept. 14

Proof Is Possible tiny home tour


Holy Cross and Xcel offer summer incentive programs

Hands-on volunteers needed this week to build solar farm in Gypsum

Note to contractors: Be sure to recycle fluorescent bulbs

DOE to bring mobile home codes
up to current IECC standards

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 Allyn Harvey at


Facilities Manager Roundtable set for Sept. 14

Garfield Clean Energy is hosting the annual Facilities Manager Roundtable, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle campus.

It is open to private and public sector facility managers from across the region.

CMC Rifle Facility Manager Joe Gugelman will host the roundtable and share a pilot program that CMC is participating in with EdgePower and funded by the Department of Energy's Sunshot program. They are using energy use forecasting along with solar forecasting to predict demand spikes and adjust building controls to avoid costly demand charges on their utility bills.

Gugelman will also share on-site innovations, such as the GoogMeister 5000, a timer he developed for the energy-intensive coffee maker when he couldn't find an off-the-shelf timer that would work.

In past years, facility managers from Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin and Mesa counties have attended. Sign up early to make sure we have the space.  

Register here, or call Erica Sparhawk at 704-9200.

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Proof Is Possible tour

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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Limited-time incentives offered this summer by
Holy Cross and Xcel Energy

Holy Cross Energy and Xcel Energy are offering strong incentives to local businesses this summer. Additionally, Holy Cross has a contest running on Facebook for all customers.

Xcel Energy is running a limited-time offer to incentivize businesses to replace their T12 fluorescent lighting with LEDs. From now until Dec. 31, 2016, Colorado customers of Xcel can earn rebates ranging from $10 to $175 per lamp or fixture by upgrading T12 fluorescent systems to LEDs.

This a new program for Xcel. It includes a no-obligation, on-site lighting assessment of a business’s facilities — including interior, exterior and parking areas — to determine what types of LEDs will save the business the most money. LEDs use up to 71 percent less energy and last five times longer than T12 fluorescent lighting.

Holy Cross Energy wants to help small businesses jump-start energy efficiency improvements ahead of the winter season. Holy Cross is offering $500 bonus to the first 20 businesses that sign up for an audit in August and complete a project by Oct. 31.

The business must invest $1,000 out of pocket after the Holy Cross rebate. These rebates are being offered in addition to any other rebate offers from Energy Smart Colorado or other organizations.
Holy Cross is also holding a contest on Facebook where residents submit a picture of their oldest refrigerator or freezer and the year it was made, and the winner wins $500 gift certificate to appliance store of choice. Holy Cross is requiring that the winner recycle their old appliance. To qualify, the unit must be working and 10-30 cubic feet.

Garfield Clean Energy offers free coaching to guide businesses from project review to completion.

Contact Garfield Clean Energy at
or CLICK HERE to schedule a free building energy walkthrough.

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Hands-on volunteers needed this week to build solar farm
in Gypsum

Community volunteers are invited to learn about solar energy and help build a 145-kilowatt solar farm in Gypsum. The farm will help about 40 income-qualified families save up to $500 per year on their electric bills.

The volunteer days are this week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11, 12 and 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the solar farm site, 132 Buckhorn Valley Road in Gypsum.

GRID Alternatives, an organization that brings solar energy to low-income households, is developing the solar farm in collaboration with Holy Cross Energy and the Colorado Energy Office. The project is also sponsored by CLEER, CORE and Habitat for Humanity.

GRID is seeking about 10 volunteers per day. To schedule your full or half day to volunteer, contact Leslie Proudfoot, GRID Alternatives development assistant, at or (303) 968-1630.

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Note to contractors: Be sure to recycle fluorescent bulbs

As a reminder, state law requires businesses to comply with strict disposal regulations for fluorescent light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which is highly toxic, and should not be sent to the landfill.

To qualify for rebates or other incentives from utilities or CORE, fluorescent bulbs must be recycled. Brite Ideas is a local company that offers this service in the Roaring Fork, Colorado and Eagle river valleys.

Contact Brite Ideas at (513) 504-6887 or

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mobile home

DOE to bring mobile home codes up to current IECC standards

Utility costs for mobile homes is 2x compared to conventional homes

Years in the making, the U.S. Department of Energy has released a draft of new federal building codes governing construction of mobile homes, making them comparable to codes governing conventional homes.

On a square footage comparison, mobile home residents spend twice as much on utilities as residents of conventional homes. The new standards are expected to save mobile home residents 27 percent on utility bills.

Lowell Ungar of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) -- a member of the team that developed the new federal codes -- blogs about what the proposed new codes will accomplish. Read his post here.

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