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Clean Energy Economy for the Region

May 5, 2017, Vol. 10, No. 4

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Partners in Energy action plan sets new targets
for efficiency, renewable energy in Garfield County

Team of energy utilities, Garfield Clean Energy starts action phase

A countywide planning effort to increase energy efficiency and clean energy in Garfield County has set new goals for a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency, along with obtaining 35 to 50 percent of electricity used countywide from renewable energy sources, all by 2030.

Xcel Energy Partners in EnergyThe Energy Action Plan for Garfield County, published May 5, 2017, was developed by community stakeholders through Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy in collaboration with Garfield Clean Energy. To see the full Energy Action Plan for Garfield County, visit

Holy Cross Energy, Black Hills Energy and Glenwood Springs Electric, which are the other energy utilities serving customers in Garfield County, also participated, as well as Garfield Clean Energy board members, citizens, clean energy businesses, Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), representatives from the Colorado River District, Colorado State University Extension, Alpine Bank, CORE, educational institutions, and the natural gas industry.

CLEER staff along with stakeholders will be collaborating with the Partners in Energy Team to execute the plan.

“This plan and the action steps we have agreed to take together are aimed at using energy efficiency and renewable energy to build and strengthen our economy. We believe there is something in this plan for everyone, and the benefits will be felt individually and countywide.”
-- Bruce Leland, New Castle councilman and Garfield Clean Energy board member

“Partners in Energy brought together contractors, environmentalists, local utility companies, major employers and local elected officials to develop an energy plan that benefits our entire region, from low income families to major commercial interests."
-- Katrina Byars, Carbondale Trustee and Garfield Clean Energy board member

“We see significant opportunities for new energy savings in these sectors and are pleased to be working with Garfield Clean Energy and partners throughout the county to achieve these goals. In addition, we are also seeing momentum to develop more renewable energy, particularly through solar installations and small-scale hydropower.”
-- Kelly Flenniken, area manager, community and local government affairs, for Xcel Energy


The plan builds on energy efficiency and clean energy targets first set in 2009 by Garfield Clean Energy, a governmental authority managed by CLEER that includes Garfield County, its six municipalities along with Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Colorado Mountain College.

Garfield Clean Energy’s 2009 energy targets led to more than 700 households and businesses making energy upgrades in the years since, with savings on energy now running about $900,000 every year. The targets also spurred installation of more than 4 megawatts of solar energy across the county.

The new 20 percent energy efficiency target in the Energy Action Plan resets the clock from 2009, uses countywide energy consumption from 2015 as a new baseline, and places the new target date at 2030.

The plan targets new areas of focus, including outreach to the natural gas industry, marijuana growing facilities, farms and ranches, and church congregations, as well as building on existing programs that reach out to households, schools, businesses and governments.

Several initiatives are already under way, such as the Clean Innovative Energy Sources workshop held March 3 and the 2017 Energy Smart Contractor Expo held April 27. These and other opportunities identified in the Energy Action Plan will give people a chance over the next 18 months to get involved and help the county meet its goals.

The plan also calls for working with local government building departments to explore upgrading codes for greater energy efficiency in new construction, and working more broadly to improve statewide policies to encourage increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

In addition to developing the forward-leaning Energy Action Plan, the Partners in Energy process looked back to 2015 and tallied energy use in the residential and commercial sectors across all utilities in Garfield County for that year.

The Partners In Energy process found that utility customers across Garfield County consumed approximately 559 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 21.3 million therms of natural gas, and spent $68.6 million on energy costs. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, this annual energy use is nearly 278,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent, or about 58,700 passenger vehicles driven for one year.

Through Partners in Energy, Xcel Energy provides free services for communities in its Colorado service areas to develop customized energy plans and then assists with implementing those plans. To learn more about Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy, visit

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EV Sales Event Glenwood Springs Ride & Drive

Mountain Chevrolet salesman Jake Dozeman, right, talks with Tim Madden after taking a test drive in this 2017 Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric vehicle, during the Electric Vehicle Sales Event Ride & Drive held as part of the Glenwood Springs Earth Day Celebration on April 22, 2017.

REV Up Your Ride heats up electric vehicle sales

Dealers sell 10 vehicles in opening weeks of 90-day discount offer

Car buyers are already taking advantage of the discounts offered through the Electric Vehicle Sales EVent, the three-county “REV Up Your Ride” campaign that launched April 1 in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties.

>> Jump straight over to Garfield Clean Energy's Electric Vehicle Sales Event website page to learn about the great deals offered on seven plug-in and battery electric cars.

EV Sales Event - Nissan Leafs

Boulder Nissan salesman Nigel Zeid, left, and Maisa Metcalf, show off Metcalf’s new 2017 Nissan Leaf, at right, along with the dealership’s demo Leaf at left. Metcalf purchased her Leaf at a discount through the Electric Vehicle Sales Event, a three-county promotion to sell all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Zeid provided test drives for seven local couples for the EV Sales Event Ride & Drive held as part of the Glenwood Springs Earth Day Celebration on April 22, 2017.

EV Sales Event - Audi

Dave and Diane Argo, left, learn about the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in electric vehicle in a conversation with e-tron owner Ted Edmonds during the Electric Vehicle Sales Event Ride & Drive event in Glenwood Springs.

Boulder Nissan has sold two Leafs and has at least three more buyers in line. Mountain Chevrolet of Glenwood Springs has sold one Volt and pre-sold two Bolts, which will hit the Colorado market in May.

At Audi Glenwood Springs, salesman Alex Feller called the EV Sales EVent “the best thing ever.” The dealership is marketing the Audi A3 e-tron at a $2,210 discount. Feller has already sold three of the plug-in hybrids and has two more on order for customers.

In addition the the Nissan, Chevrolet and Audi dealers, Co’s BMW Center of Loveland is offering discounts on three EV models through the Sales Event.

REV Up Your Ride car shows and test drive events held in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs earlier this month have helped introduce residents to electric vehicles.

Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon will host an EV event on Thursday, May 18, with a variety of EVs on display from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by an educational presentation on “The Science Behind EVs” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The EV Sales Event discounts are available through June 30. The discounts can be combined with the state of Colorado’s $5,000 tax credit and a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 to significantly drive down the cost of a lease or purchase.

The Electric Vehicle Sales Event is led by Refuel Colorado, which is a program of the Colorado Energy Office, and Garfield Clean Energy. CLEER is organizing and managing the effort.

Funding for a three-month advertising campaign, along with teamwork to promote electric vehicles, is coming from CORE, City of Aspen, Town of Snowmass Village, City of Glenwood Springs, Eagle County, Town of Vail, Town of Avon, Holy Cross Energy, Garfield County Environmental Health and Walking Mountains Science Center.

A similar electric vehicle campaign is underway through May 25 in La Plata and Montezuma counties through Nissan of Durango for discounts on the Nissan Leaf.

In the news: Durango Herald, April 7, 2017
4CORE’s ‘group buy program’ a novel, affordable way to break gasoline habit
From now until May 25, La Plata and Empire Electric Association members, Mercy Regional Medical Center staff, and 4CORE members can sign up for the purchase of an EV from Nissan of Durango.

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Colorado State Capitol Building

Reauthorization bill adds natural gas emphasis
to Colorado Energy Office

Legislators still debating permanent funding for low-income energy assistance, 10-year extension for utility-run conservation programs

State Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, introduced a sweeping bill April 26 to continue the work of the Colorado Energy Office for the next three years. Senate Bill 301 would end certain CEO programs that are underused or have fulfilled their objectives, and open the door for investor-owned utilities to produce and store natural gas.

SB 301 is moving through Senate committees as the required May 10 adjournment date for the Colorado Legislature 2017 session draws near.

Colorado legislators are still debating bills that would establish permanent funding for energy assistance to low-income households (HB 1116), and extend utility energy efficiency programs for another 10 years (HB 1227).

Legislators have passed bills calling for a more understandable cost breakdown on utility bills (SB 105), creating a new set of regulations governing electric-assist bicycles (HB 1151), and extending the time for regional transportation authorities, such as RFTA, to seek voter approval for property tax funding to 2029 (HB 1018).

Legislators rejected bills that would have ended the state tax credits for electric vehicles (SB 188), would have asked voters to increase state sales tax for transportation funding (HB 1242), and would have prompted research on regional electric transmission markets (HB 1225) and utility-scale energy storage systems (SB 089).

Another late bill would require the state’s Climate Action Plan to include measurable goals for both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for adapting to climate change. Introduced April 27, House Bill 1366 has yet to be considered.

These are some of the 22 bills on clean energy topics in the 2017 legislative session being tracked by CLEER on the Garfield Clean Energy website.

Click here to read summaries of the bills and check their current status.

In the news: Associated Press, May 3, 2017
Colorado bill would extend, change energy office’s mandate

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado Senate committee on Wednesday (May 3, 2017) passed a bill to save a state energy agency from extinction — but with caveats that would drastically reduce the agency’s renewable energy portfolio and make it easier for some utilities to produce and stockpile natural gas.

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Ride Garfield County

Let's go! Ride Garfield County starts this week

Seven-month competition includes bicycling, bus riding

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

The seven-month Ride Garfield County Bike and Bus Challenge started Monday. Bike riders, bus riders and carpoolers from across Garfield County are invited to track their miles through Nov. 30.

“We are hosting the Bike and Bus Challenge all the way to Nov. 30 to help ease traffic congestion from the Grand Avenue Bridge project,” said event organizer Karen Wahrmund of Garfield Clean Energy.

“The bridge closure will run from Aug. 14 to late November, and it’s going to affect people who live in Glenwood Springs and everyone who travels through Glenwood Springs,” Wahrmund said.

“Ride Garfield County is an incentive for people to start building their bike-riding, bus-riding and carpooling habits in the coming weeks, so we can be geared up for the bridge closure,” she said. “Both ways of getting around are good for your health and better for the environment.”

Now in its third year, Ride Garfield County also includes community events, and prizes for those who log their miles as individuals and as teams. Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER are the organizers for Ride Garfield County.

Ride Garfield and the City of Glenwood Springs will co-host free downtown breakfast booths for National Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 19, and for Colorado Bike to Work Day on Wednesday, June 28.

How to get involved in Ride Garfield County

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

The League of American Cyclists is hosting the National Bike Challenge this year, taking over the project from People For Bikes. Riders who participated in the National Bike Challenge in previous years will have to re-register to participate this year, as data from previous years did not carry over.

The new National Bike Challenge website uses Strava, a free mileage-tracking website, to automatically feed bike-riding miles to the Bike Challenge website. Riders can link a mobile device to their Strava account, or enter their miles manually in the Strava website after their rides.

The National Bike Challenge website tracks mileage totals for individuals, local teams, towns and cities, states and the whole country. Anyone living in Garfield County who registers for the National Bike Challenge will be automatically included in the Ride Garfield County campaign.

“We’re competing locally, as riders and as teams. And all our Ride Garfield County miles add together for Ride Garfield County to compete with communities across the country,” said Wahrmund. “In 2016, Ride Garfield placed ninth nationally for regional biking campaigns, so we know we can compete on a national level.”

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

The site also has a segment mileage sheet that lists one-way and round-trip mileages for common bus and carpool commuting trips in the Rifle to Aspen corridor.

To get started, visit

CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy are seeking sponsors to help with local events and to donate prizes. Contact CLEER at (970) 704-9200 or to learn how your organization can get involved.

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Holy Cross Energy offers $300,000 in grants
for commercial energy retrofits

Rebate bonus offered to contractors for commercial projects

Holy Cross EnergyHoly Cross Energy announced its 2017 Think Efficiency grant program, offering $300,000 in matching grant funds for commercial customers to carry out electric efficiency projects by Dec. 31.

The matching grants can cover up to 75 percent of project costs for nonprofit organizations that own their building or have a lease extending for at least two years. All other commercial customers can seek a match of up to 50 percent of project costs.

A project can be a bundle of electricity-saving measures at one or more facilities owned by the same entity, or can be a single upgrade project. Projects must be efficiency retrofits in existing buildings; new construction is not eligible.

Think Efficiency grants are offered in lieu of standard commercial efficiency rebates offered by Holy Cross. Projects are still eligible for additional funding from organizations such as Energy Smart Colorado.

The minimum grant amount is $2,500, and grants will be awarded until the $300,000 Think Efficiency fund is fully used.

Commercial customers must apply for grant funding by June 30, and projects that are awarded grant funds must be completed by Dec. 31.

In a separate incentive, Holy Cross is offering a bonus of up to $500 for contractors in an effort to get more contractors and commercial property owners involved with the utility’s energy efficiency rebate programs.

The bonus is offered to contractors for two types of circumstances.

  • Contractors who are making their first-time referral of a Holy Cross commercial customer for an efficiency rebate will qualify.
  • Any contractor who is working with a Holy Cross commercial customer that is making its first-time application for an efficiency rebate will qualify.

The bonus is good for projects completed between May 1 and Aug. 31, and qualifying contractors must submit the bonus form and the commercial customer’s rebate application form by Sept. 30.

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Holy Cross Energy

Many thanks to Holy Cross Energy
and CLEER contributors. Your support makes this work possible.

In this issue

Partners in Energy action plan sets new targets for efficiency, renewable energy in Garfield County

REV Up Your Ride heats up
electric vehicle sales

Legislative Roundup - Reauthorization bill adds natural gas emphasis to Colorado Energy Office

Let's go! Ride Garfield County starts this week

Holy Cross offers $300,000 in grants for commercial energy retrofits


West Slope Solar Fair & Permaculture Expo - May 20, Paonia


Local / Colorado

Regional / National

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


West Slope Solar Fair
and Permaculture Expo

The Colorado Farm & Food Alliance, The Learning Council and Solar Energy International are hosting the West Slope Solar Fair and Permaculture Expo from 12 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the Solar Energy International campus, 39845 Mathews Lane in Paonia.

The event features workshops, live music, local food and drinks, exhibitors, activities for kids, and door prizes.

Throughout the day and around the fair, participants will be encouraged to take various small (and perhaps big) steps toward increased sustainability, conservation, climate action or clean energy.

Click here for for exhibitor information, schedules, musical acts, area lodging suggestions and more.

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Glenwood Springs Post Independent
April 17, 2017

Carbondale micro hydro project
cruising to approval

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ruled that the Town of Carbondale qualifies for a quick review of its proposal to install a micro hydropower turbine on an inlet pipe at the town’s water treatment plant on Nettle Creek.

The ruling puts the project on a fast track for formal federal approval.

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Aspen Daily News, May 1, 2017

We-cycle begins its fifth season
with free season pass options

Basalt and Eagle County residents can get free rides with drive-less pledge

We-cycle, the nation’s first mountain-town bike sharing system, begins its fifth season today in Basalt, offering most midvalley residents a free season pass if they pledge to leave the car at home at least one day a week.

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Denver Post, April 2, 2017

Colorado utilities may plug into regional electricity network serving 14 states

Utilities serving Colorado and most of Wyoming are inching closer to joining the Southwest Power Pool, an electricity transmission network stretching across 14 states from north Texas to North Dakota.

Some say it could bring more than $1 billion in benefits to regional utilities, although what that might mean to ratepayers is unknown.

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Denver Post, April 2, 2017

A 6-year study of Colorado bears is upending assumptions about their encounters with humans

Researchers began their study in response to rising numbers of human-bear conflicts and the changing climate.

Shorter hibernation due to warmer temperatures are one of the factors resulting in more human-bear interactions, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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Quinnipiac University, April 5, 2017

Two-thirds of U.S. voters take climate personally

A Quinnipiac University poll reports that three out of four voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about climate change and do not believe it is a hoax; nearly two-thirds understand climate change is caused by human activity; and by more than a two-to-one margin say that the president should not remove specific regulations intended to combat climate change.

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Washington Post, April 5, 2017

Carbon dioxide levels could reach their highest point in 50 million years by the end of the century

Continuing to burn fossil fuels at the current rate could bring atmospheric carbon dioxide to its highest concentration in 50 million years, jumping from about 400 parts per million now to more than 900 parts per million by the end of this century, a new study warns.

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Antique and modern electric vehicles

A 2017 BMW i3 electric vehicle, right, and the 1914 Detroit Electric Model 47, owned by Thomas Edison, outside of Thomas Edison’s garage at Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, N.J.
Photos courtesy of David Rose for BMW of North America.

BMW to install 100 EV charging stations for national parks

BMW of North America has partnered with the National Park Foundation, National Park Service and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to bring up to 100 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to national parks and nearby communities across the country.

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