Climate change requires us to think globally and act locally. And regardless of what global leaders think, it takes place-based organizations like CLEER to do the on-the-ground, hearts-and-minds work of speeding the transition to a low-emissions, clean-energy future.
Since 2008, CLEER has inspired, challenged, coached and organized its region to be an active part of the solution. We’ve worked behind the scenes with local governments and utilities, publicly in the media, individually with homeowners and businesspeople, and in groups with architects, school officials and other professionals.
We’ve continually pushed the envelope on policy, programs and cultural attitudes. We’ve made tangible, award-winning progress in an area that could have been written off.
Garfield Clean Energy, Colorado’s first clean-energy authority.
And therein lies CLEER’s biggest impact: bringing the economic benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy to wealthy resort areas and working-class communities alike – uniting red and blue voters, and showing how to cut through partisan gridlock over climate action.
Strengthened Climate Targets
As the manager of services for Garfield Clean Energy, CLEER helped the nine partner governments and institutions draft their original 2010 Energy Efficiency and Economic Development Resolution, which set the following goals:
- Increase energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption and emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
- Reduce petroleum consumption by 25 percent by 2020.
- Generate 35 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.
In 2017, CLEER played an instrumental role in upping the goals for 2030. Energy consumption and emissions are still set to decrease by 20 percent, but using 2015 as the new baseline. The renewable energy target was increased to 35-50 percent, also against 2015 baseline figures.
Of course, setting goals is only the first step in achieving actual reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Reduced Energy Use and Emissions
Growth in Renewable Energy
- Writing the 2010 grant that financed a wave of solar installations on public buildings, demonstrating viability and increasing visibility.
- Conducting a study of potential sites for solar installations from Parachute to Carbondale.
- Helping local governments, water districts and schools analyze proposals and negotiate power purchase agreements with utilities.
- Assisting Glenwood Springs Electric in designing its solar rebate program.
- Providing free assistance to homeowners and businesses on solar bids and rebates.
- Working with architects and contractors to make as many buildings and facilities net-zero for electricity as possible.
- Supporting the local renewable-energy sector by providing customer referrals to contractors.
- Convening partners across a three-county region to maximize solar through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Solar Innovative Network.
A Model for Other Communities
Garfield County represents the majority of America: mostly rural and working class, politically diverse and not on the cutting edge of change. In the great game plan to save the climate, these places must not be ignored.
These are the very communities most in need of the economic development that can come from energy efficiency and renewables. If they are left out, they will only fall further behind economically, worsening the social problems and political resentment that are so prevalent today. On the flip side, winning these areas over is an essential step in de-polarizing energy policy, expanding popular support for clean energy, and reaching a tipping point on action at the federal level.
Please help CLEER replicate Garfield County’s success across Colorado.