Nov. 22, 2022 – We hope you’re as encouraged as we are by recent progress on climate at the national and state level, most notably the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which authorizes hundreds of billions of dollars in incentives for emissions-reduction measures.
The new IRA era will mean much more work and responsibility for regional organizations like CLEER – ensuring the funding is used strategically and equitably, managing programs for maximum impact, coordinating strategy, measuring progress, preparing for workforce impacts and lots more – but we’re looking forward to the challenge!
In the meantime, we’d like to offer this update on what CLEER has been up to recently to spur our region’s transition to a clean energy economy.
Popular ReEnergize program to continue in 2023
ReEnergize Garfield County, which we launched through Garfield Clean Energy this spring, has been an unparalleled success. The program provides financial aid for energy upgrades to low- and middle-income households, who benefit most from healthier, more comfortable homes and lower utility bills. The $150,000 allocated by the county to ReEnergize was fully committed within weeks, showing just how great the need is.
In addition to providing direct financial assistance to 52 middle-income families to weatherize their homes, ReEnergize has been able to leverage its marketing efforts to help another 70 lower-income households access state and federal financial aid. You can read a profile of one Rifle family helped by ReEnergize here. Garfield County has committed additional funding for ReEnergize in 2023 and we’ve already got a waiting list.
CLEER-run Clean Diesel Program promotes clean machines statewide
Two years ago, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tapped CLEER to manage the state’s Clean Diesel Program. The program makes grants to commercial entities to replace diesel machines with new zero-emissions models – thus spurring pilot projects that demonstrate the many advantages of transitioning to clean machines.
Some of these machines are really big (and polluting). For example, we recently inked a $600k+ grant agreement with a major Front Range recycling facility for an all-electric material handler that will save 12,000 gallons of diesel annually, and a $400k+ grant to a food service distributor for three electric yard trucks that will save 27,000 gallons a year. Also in the works: electric farm tractors, bucket trucks, construction equipment and refrigeration units.
Bridge-building smooths the way for regional solar
It’s exciting to see how receptive our region is to the development of local solar energy following the release last fall of our comprehensive Three-County Solar + Storage Study and Action Plan. In June, CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy teamed up with the Colorado Solar and Storage Association to host a well-attended regional conference in Rifle, Harnessing Solar Benefits for Western Colorado. Thanks to proactive bridge-building like this, red and blue elected officials alike are increasingly regarding solar as an economic development opportunity rather than a threat to traditional industries.
CLEER was proud to be on hand at the September ribbon-cutting for CMC’s 4.5 MW solar + storage project at its Spring Valley campus – the largest such project in Colorado to date. Katharine Rushton (center), formerly of CLEER, was instrumental in facilitating the complex partnership that made the project possible.
CLEER and GCE inspire ambitious 2030 climate goals
With the help of CLEER and Xcel Energy Partners in Energy, Garfield Clean Energy is working to update the countywide Energy Action Plan that has guided its programs and services since 2017. This summer, a volunteer working group and project team analyzed energy use trends in Garfield County and then proposed a set of updated goals and strategies that will be incorporated into the new Energy Action Plan by the end of this year.
The GCE board – whose voting members represent Garfield County, all of the county’s municipalities, CMC and RFTA – has formally adopted the goals. It is a huge step for these entities to collectively commit to 2030 goals of 100% carbon-free electricity, 15% zero-emissions vehicles and a 10% reduction in emissions from natural gas. The goals are summarized in this two-page ad that we ran in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Aspen Daily News.
Meanwhile, the town of Carbondale is pushing the envelope with CLEER’s assistance. The town council recently adopted a roadmap to phase out natural gas in new construction by 2030, and gave the green light to develop a similar roadmap to make all existing buildings net-zero by 2050.
A shout-out to our Allies
Business sponsorships provide much-needed support to expand CLEER’s work accelerating the adoption of clean energy in western Colorado. The CLEER Allies program enables corporations, organizations and philanthropists to partner with us in this work and achieve greater impact. We want to send a huge thank-you to our fabulous CLEER Allies. Click here to learn more about the CLEER Allies program.