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By September 26, 2018December 17th, 2018No Comments

Garfield Clean Energy wins statewide clean energy leadership award

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

Garfield Clean Energy was one of eight community efforts recognized Jan. 31 at the Colorado Communities Symposium for its clean energy leadership.

The three-day symposium in Aurora, hosted by the Compact of Colorado Communities and the State of Colorado, brought 400 elected officials and community leaders from across Colorado to discuss climate change preparedness and clean energy development.


Garfield Clean Energy was recognized for its innovative use of energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative transportation fuels to drive economic development. Also recognized was CLEER, which manages the programs and services of Garfield Clean Energy.

Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, treasurer of the Garfield Clean Energy board, and GCE board Vice-Chair Jason White of Roaring Fork Transportation Authority accepted the award, presented at a banquet Jan. 31.

“We are an example for other rural communities on how to bring an entire county together and work together for a common cause,” Jankovsky said.

He noted that year after year, Garfield Clean Energy has leveraged contributions from its nine member governments to bring about clean energy projects valued in the millions of dollars.

“This just shows how we can leverage those funds to create jobs in this energy sector, and how positive that is for our county,” Jankovsky said.

Jankovsky noted that Gov. John Hickenlooper honored Garfield County by citing several examples of local clean energy projects during his keynote presentation on Wednesday. They included the large solar arrays powering Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, water treatment plants in Battlement Mesa and Silt, and all of Rifle’s municipal buildings and facilities.

“Across Colorado, local governments are playing a critical role in reducing emissions to address climate change,” Hickenlooper said. “These local programs are laying the groundwork for Colorado’s place as a climate and clean energy leader.”

Alice Laird, executive director of CLEER, credited community leaders from Parachute to Carbondale for their commitment to Garfield Clean Energy, resulting in the statewide recognition.

“The CLEER team is honored to be part of this countywide partnership that helps families, businesses, and governments save energy and tap local power sources,” Laird said. “We’re excited that this effort, which we launched together in 2009, has resulted in tangible economic and environmental results, while helping to diversify the economy.”

Other recipients of the Colorado Communities Symposium clean energy leadership awards were community clean energy programs in Aspen, Gunnison, Durango, Denver, Fort Collins and Jefferson County, as well as the Clean Energy Credit Union of Englewood.

The clean energy leadership awards recognize innovative programs and initiatives that “demonstrate a bold vision for a clean, resilient and prosperous Colorado,” according to Daniel Kreeger, executive director of the Association of Climate Change Officers and a lead organizer of the symposium.

“These programs are role models for other Colorado communities,” Kreeger said.

Free workshops explain risks of radon, how to make homes safe

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is estimated to cause 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. In Garfield County, 40 percent of homes have tested high for radon.

Radon exposure is a cancer risk that we can do something about. Two free workshops are being held in Rifle and Carbondale to inform residents about radon testing and how to make your home safe.


Morgan Hill, radon expert with Garfield County Environmental Health, will explain where radon comes from, the health risks of radon exposure, testing for radon, and how the mitigation process works for a variety of homes.

Anyone who has done radon testing with results above the EPA “action limit” of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), or anyone interested in learning more about radon testing and mitigation, is encouraged to attend either of the free workshops.

Hill will also provide resources for do-it-yourself solutions and references for radon mitigation contractors that serve western Colorado.

Israel Solis, project manager at Stanton Engineering Solutions, will explain different types of radon mitigation systems available for homeowners.

Tuesday, February 27
5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Garfield County Administration Building
195 W. 14th St.
RSVP for Rifle workshop here.

Thursday, March 1
5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
CLEER Resource Center at the Third Street Center
520 S. Third St., Suite 7

RSVP for Carbondale workshop here.

The free radon workshops are presented by Garfield Clean Energy, CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region and Garfield County, and sponsored by Town of Carbondale and Stanton Engineering.

The workshop includes refreshments, free home radon test kits and a chance to win a $250 coupon for a radon mitigation system from Stanton Engineering.

Built-in energy efficiency pays off for new Garfield County Administration Building

By Erin Mathe, Xcel Partners in Energy

Hundred-year old historic buildings are often an architectural treasure, but with age they become inefficient and in need of significant renovations, as was the case with the Garfield County Henry Building in downtown Rifle.

Rather than undertake an expensive and complicated renovation, Garfield County administrators decided it was more prudent to consolidate all county operations and departments and house them together in a new structure.


“We had to accomplish several priorities within this single structure,” explains Frank Coberly, Garfield County Facilities Director. “We needed more space for the growing number of employees working for the county, we wanted to promote productivity and good health, and we wanted to use new construction techniques and materials for resource conservation and environmental responsibility.”

Garfield County leaders needed help to achieve their project priorities, so they formed an integrated project team. Project partners included Xcel Energy, Garfield Clean Energy Collaborative (GCE) and CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region.

GCE helps Garfield County and its hundreds of households and businesses become more energy efficient and develop local renewable energy systems. The collaboration uses clean energy as a means to create a stronger, more resilient economy.

CLEER, a nonprofit based in Carbondale, manages the programs and services of GCE. CLEER energy coaches give community partners advice on making smart investments in energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems, along with assistance for grant applications.

Leveraging Resources

The Energy Efficient Buildings program from Xcel Energy was a perfect resource for the new building. As an Xcel Energy customer, the county was eligible to tap the utility’s support and rebate offerings, including design support for optimizing energy efficiency measures.

“We have an energy expert review the design plans and suggest energy efficiency measures to be built into the project from the beginning. The expert also provides costs of the measures, projected savings, and potential rebates available,” says Parker Cohn, Associate Product Portfolio Manager at Xcel Energy.

A bigger, better, brighter new building

The results were well worth the meticulous planning and detail that went into the project. In 2016, the Garfield County Rifle Administration building was officially open for business. The new 20,000-square-foot space has plenty of room for county employees and officials working there. The building even has a guest office with 16 available work spaces and an employee fitness center.

“Everyone loves the new space. It’s modern, comfortable, spacious and user-friendly. There are balconies with outdoor eating spaces, kitchens for preparing food, and lots of meeting space for multiple users,” Coberly says. “And the improved indoor air quality is a bonus.”

A few of the energy and water savings measures implemented in the new building include:

  • High efficiency heating and cooling systems for greater occupant comfort
  • Two electric vehicle charging stations
  • Low-flow faucets, toilets and urinals
  • High efficiency lighting fixtures and controls using motion-detecting sensors

The combined measures added about $25,000 to the overall cost but were partially offset by $9,600 in Xcel Energy rebates. The measures will save Garfield County thousands each year in energy costs throughout the life of the equipment.

“It was great working with all of the project partners,” Coberly says. “New techniques enabled us to use elements of the LEED® green building program in our construction.”

Coberly says the building’s energy use is even lower than predicted. The efficiencies of the heating and cooling system paired with efficient lighting are significant.

The building’s controls, which govern lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation, are connected to a graphic display. The facility managers can use the online display to adjust control settings on site or from elsewhere.

A separate monitoring system, CLEER’s Building Energy Navigator website, gives the facility managers access to real-time energy data so they can see how effective their adjustments have been.

Finally, materials used in and around the building have a low environmental impact, including landscaping designed to conserve water and provide habitat for native species.

“The views are fantastic,” Coberly says. “We can see deer, wild turkeys and an occasional bear.”

Leadership in green building design

The Garfield County Rifle Administration Building exemplifies leadership in green building design, particularly energy efficiency, while supporting partnerships in the region. Xcel Energy continues to collaborate with the community through Partners in Energy.

Partners in Energy helps communities take energy planning to the next level with facilitation and implementation assistance. This support enables participating communities to strategically reduce energy use, take advantage of rebate programs and renewable energy opportunities, and generate excitement and engagement to meet their energy goals.

“The program is designed to help communities form a team, make a plan that reflects their priorities, and implement change. We also track and report progress, which is often a great motivator to continue efforts and encourage even more people to get involved,” says Tami Gunderzik, Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy Program Manager.

She explains that the community identifies what goals it wants to achieve and Xcel Energy helps determine what programs and services can help the community get there.

“The Garfield Administration Building is an excellent example of what can be done in any of our communities when multiple agencies collaborate to create a more sustainable solution, energy-related or otherwise,” says Ellie Troxell, Partners in Energy Community Facilitator.

No matter which entities were involved and what incentives were provided by Xcel Energy, Coberly says he’s happy for the combined effort and results.

“This is a building that the citizens can be proud of for years to come,” he says.

For more information about Xcel Energy’s rebate programs or Partners in Energy, visit\PartnersinEnergy or call (800) 369-4362.

Glenwood Springs Electric resumes solar rebates

Glenwood Springs Electric has resumed offering rebates for customers to install on-site solar electric arrays, with funding for up to 12 residential systems and three commercial systems.

“We are pleased to once again offer the popular solar rebates to our customers,” said Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa. “The rebates will help more of our customers install solar energy systems and increase the renewable energy in our system.”


Glenwood Springs Electric has offered solar rebates since 2010. It suspended the program in 2017 due to limits imposed by the utility’s wholesale electricity supplier, but has resolved that issue.

Solar electric rebates are offered on a first come basis, and customers are encouraged to apply and reserve their rebate prior to signing a contract with a solar installer. These rebates are typically sold out within the first few months of the year.

For commercial customers, the rebate is $0.50 per watt for up to 10 kilowatts, or $5,000.

For residential customers, the rebate is $0.75 per watt for up to 3 kilowatts, or $2,250.

In both cases, larger systems can be installed, but the rebate is not offered above the size limit.

Residential and commercial property owners can also apply for an additional rebate from CORE, and claim the federal tax credit.

The CORE rebate is $0.75 per watt for up to 3 kilowatts, or $2,250, for owned systems, and $0.50 per watt for up to 1.5 kilowatts, or $1,500, for leased systems.

The federal tax credit is 30 percent of project cost, minus rebates but with no upper limit on size of the array, through the end of 2019. The credit drops to 26 percent in 2020.

Glenwood Springs Electric also offers a broad package of rebate options for residential and commercial customers to make electricity-saving efficiency upgrades, along with free energy coaching provided by CLEER.

Commercial customers can get a free energy walk-through by a CLEER energy coach, and rebates are available for engineering grade energy assessments and for qualifying electricity-saving measures.

Residential customers can get a complete home energy assessment, including $50 in quick fix items, for just $100, plus rebates for qualifying electricity-saving upgrades. An additional rebate is offered for households that install LED light bulbs.

Residential customers can also get rebates for purchasing qualifying energy efficient or water efficient appliances. Rebates are $50 for dishwashers, $75 for clothes washers and $100 for refrigerators. For these rebates, contact Chery Earnest at Glenwood Springs Electric, 384-6352.

Glenwood Springs Electric also contributes to the countywide CARE program, which provides free home energy assessments and upgrades to income-qualified families.

CLEER manages the Glenwood Springs Electric sustainability program. To learn more about solar rebates, efficiency rebates, free energy coaching and the CARE program, visit GarfieldClean or call CLEER at 704-9200.

Legislators start early to redefine and fund Colorado Energy Office

Colorado legislators continue to debate the framework for the Colorado Energy Office after failing to fund the agency in the 2017 session. New legislation sponsored by state Sen Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, would redefine and fund the office.

Scott’s bill would expand the agency’s mission to include nuclear and hydroelectric power, broaden CEO’s outreach to include all energy sources, and provide four years of funding for the agency.


Legislators are debating the merits of Scott’s bill and five others dealing with clean energy. They have killed three other bills, including  a proposal that would have required the state’s electric utilities to provide electricity powered 100 percent by renewable energy sources by 2035.

Here is a summary of clean energy bills introduced in the 2018 legislative session.

Bills in play

SB 003 Colorado Energy Office
Introduced Jan. 10, passed Jan. 17 by Senate Energy Committee, awaiting action in Senate Appropriations Committee

  • Adds nuclear and hydroelectric power to CEO’s portfolio, broadens CEO’s outreach to include all energy sources and provides four years of funding for the agency.
  • Discontinues CEO’s work on programs that offer grants to schools for renewable energy installations, work with the solar industry and building trades, and support woody biomass heating projects.

SB 009 Allow Electric Utility Customers to Install Energy Storage Equipment
Introduced Jan. 10, passed by the Senate Feb. 8

  • Declares that consumers of electricity have a right to install, interconnect and use electricity storage systems (batteries) on their property, and directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to adopt rules governing the installation, interconnection, and use of customer-sited distributed electricity storage systems.

SB 047 Repeal Tax Credits Innovative Vehicles
Introduced Jan. 10, passed Feb 6 by Senate Finance Committee, awaiting action in Senate Appropriations Committee

  • Repeals the state income tax credits for innovative motor vehicles and innovative trucks for purchase and leases on Jan. 1, 2019. Currently the tax credits are scheduled to expire in 2021. A similar bill introduced in 2017 failed to win legislative approval.

SB 117 Collect long-term climate change data
Introduced Jan. 29, awaiting action in Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee

  • Requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to collect and report on greenhouse gas emissions data.

SB 144 Regulation of bicycles approaching intersections
Introduced Jan. 29, awaiting action in Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee

  • Allows local governments to adopt local rules governing cycling through intersections, specifically allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs after slowing down, and allowing cyclists to proceed through a red light after stopping to look for traffic. A similar bill introduced in 2017 failed to win legislative approval.

HB 1107 Prewire Residence For Electric Vehicle Charging Port
Introduced Jan. 18, passed Feb. 8 by House Transportation and Energy Committee

  • Requires builders of new residences to offer buyers the option to accommodate electric vehicle charging systems.

Bills “postponed indefinitely”

HB 1080 Climate Leadership Awards Program
Introduced Jan. 17, PI’d Feb. 7 by House Natural; Resources & Environment Committee

  • Would have required a state climate change officer to develop a climate leadership awards program to recognize organizations and individuals that provide leadership in response to climate change.

HB 1085 Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines
Introduced Jan. 18, PI’d Feb. 8 by House Transportation and Energy Committee

  • Would have required the Department of Public Health and Environment to research the health effects of noise and stray voltage from wind energy turbines on humans and animals.

SB 064 Require 100% Renewable Energy By 2035
Introduced Jan. 12, PI’d Feb. 1 by Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee

  • Would have updated the renewable energy standard to require that all electric utilities, including rural electric co-ops and municipal utilities, derive their energy from 100% renewable sources by 2035.

Gov. Hickenlooper announces plan to support electric vehicles on state’s highways

On Jan. 24, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the release of the Colorado Electric Vehicle (EV) Plan, delivering on a directive set forth in his July 2017 executive order, “Supporting Colorado’s Clean Energy Transition.”

“The Colorado EV Plan serves as a roadmap to build out a fast-charging network, giving Coloradans the ability to travel anywhere in the state in an EV,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “The plan includes a set of goals and strategies that ensure Colorado continues leading in adoption of EVs and leverages the economic development and tourism benefits.”


According to an analysis of the plan by SWEEP, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, the plan’s most important goal is to increase EV ownership from today’s 13,000 EVs statewide to 940,000 by 2030. This shift would save Colorado drivers over $500 million per year in fuel costs, SWEEP reports.

Other goals outlined in the plan include:

  • Coordinate efforts with other Mountain West states to make regional travel with an EV convenient.
  • Develop partnerships with electric utilities to support deployment and greater utilization of fast chargers.
  • Go from 36 electric transit vehicles in 2017 to 500 by 2030.
  • More than triple the number of EVs in the state fleet by 2020.

The plan was developed in partnership with the Colorado Energy Office (CEO), Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

The agencies and council undertook an extensive stakeholder engagement process with utilities, government entities, SWEEP and other non-governmental organizations, and industry representatives.

In October 2017, the governors of eight Western states signed the Regional Electric Vehicle West memorandum of understanding, creating a framework for collaboration in developing an Intermountain West Electric Corridor. Interstates 70, 76 and 25 are included under Colorado’s commitment to the REV West Plan.

The Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan will be updated on an annual basis to ensure Colorado remains responsive to a rapidly-changing market.

Download the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan (18 pages, 2.6 MB)

Hotchkiss organic orchard taps Colorado C-PACE for renewable energy system

By Heatheryn Higgins, Colorado Energy Office News

On Feb. 8, Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), which helps building owners and developers finance energy efficiency measures, announced the state’s first agricultural project funded through the program.

Ela Family Farms, a Hotchkiss-based certified organic orchard, will use C-PACE financing to install a new solar photovoltaic (PV) system at its warehouse. Along with producing renewable energy, the installment is projected to save the fourth-generation orchard more than $113,000 in energy costs over the system’s lifetime.


Hotchkiss-based Empowered Energy Systems will install the 25 kW solar PV system at Ela Family Farms’ 7,391-square-foot warehouse.

“C-PACE financing is a game-changer for our rural county’s agricultural producers and businesses,” said Brad Burritt, a co-owner of Empowered Energy Systems. “Being able to offer long-term financing with no down payment makes solar more affordable, and it’s a smart investment for rural businesses. We’re proud to install the first C-PACE project on the Western Slope.”

Colorado C-PACE is a public-private partnership designed to help commercial property owners and real estate developers finance energy efficiency projects with affordable, long-term financing. The program relies on private capital providers, and not taxpayer dollars, to fund projects.

Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado, a nonprofit that promotes and coordinates economic development efforts throughout southwest Colorado, funded the $60,420 Ela Family Farms investment working through Colorado C-PACE.

“For four generations, the Ela family has tried to be innovative and farm in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible,” said Steve Ela, owner of Ela Family Farms.

“While we were converting the farm to 100 percent certified organic production, we changed our watering system from wasteful furrow irrigation to sprinkler-and-drip irrigation. A solar PV system to power our fruit coolers with renewable energy seemed like the logical next step. The fact that it will lower our utility bills is an added bonus,” Ela said.

“C-PACE is available statewide to commercial property owners in counties that have joined the program – whether that’s in downtown Denver or rural Dolores,” said Paul Scharfenberger, chairman of the Colorado New Energy Improvement District, which oversees Colorado C-PACE, and chief operating officer of the Colorado Energy Office.

“The relatively small size of this project, and the fact that it was agricultural, didn’t exclude it from obtaining funding. This is a testament to the program’s value and the number of lenders who have signed up to participate – 22 and counting – which is more than any other statewide C-PACE program,” Scharfenberger added.

Colorado C-PACE provides financing for commercial property energy and water improvements including new heating/cooling systems, lighting, water pumps, insulation, and renewable energy projects.

C-PACE financing can cover up to 100 percent of the project cost and is repaid over a period of up to 20 years, with payments structured as a regular line item on the property tax bill issued by the county treasurer. When a property is sold, the C-PACE assessment can stay with the property and transfer to the new owner, who enjoys the ongoing utility cost savings.

Colorado C-PACE is managed by the Colorado New Energy Improvement District and receives support from the Colorado Energy Office. See for more information.

In the news

The Daily Sentinel, Feb. 8, 2018
 New loan program gets its day in the sun

Four tips to improve electric vehicle battery range this winter

News from the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Electric vehicle (EV) batteries charge by moving ions through a liquid electrolyte. As the temperatures outside drop, the electrolyte in lithium ion EV batteries thickens and it becomes more difficult for ions to move through (much like the challenge of walking through snow versus dry pavement). This increased resistance results in less EV battery range as more energy is needed for each ion to move.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to stay warm and improve your EV range. Below are four tips to get the most out of your EV battery this winter.


Warm the battery/cabin while your vehicle is still plugged in. By leaving your vehicle plugged in, you use electricity from the grid to get it warmed up, rather than drawing energy from your battery. Once you hit the road, there’s more battery charge left available for driving.

Use your vehicle’s heated accessories. Heated accessories (steering wheel, seats, etc.) use less energy than heating the entire cabin. In addition, the warmth on your backside and fingers can minimize the amount of cabin heat needed to make you and your passengers feel comfortable.

Practice eco-driving. Using eco-driving techniques can help get the most out of your range all year round.  Some eco-driving tips include watching your speed, minimizing hard starts, and maximizing your regenerative braking by coasting when possible and depressing the brake pedal gradually, when needed. Visit for more EV eco-driving tips.

Be sure to brush off your car before driving.  Snow or ice on your vehicle adds extra weight that your battery has to drag along and increases aerodynamic drag by changing your vehicle’s profile. Since EVs don’t produce waste heat from the engine, snow on your hood will stay put if you don’t brush it off before your start your trip.

Use these simple tips to stretch your EV range this winter. To learn more about electric vehicle, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Winter Bike to Work Day, 2018, at the Carbondale BRT Station

Winter Bike to Work Day

Winter Bike to Work and Bike to School Day events were held in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen on Feb. 9. They were part of International Winter Bike to Work Day, a global campaign now in its sixth year.

Drew Huemmler with Defiant Pack, left, shows how to carry skis on a bike using Defiant’s Ski Carry bag.


Jamie Tatsuno and Jennifer Balmes of RFTA and Karen Wahrmund with CLEER handed out doughnuts and coffee at the RFTA Carbondale Park & Ride. The event brought bundled-up cyclists and bus riders from all over the valley. The Carbondale event was hosted by RFTA, CLEER, Garfield Clean Energy, Defiant Pack and Why Cycles.

Volunteers and 36 riders turned out for Winter Bike to Work Day in Glenwood Springs, hosted by the City of Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Springs Bicycle Advocates.

Glenwood Springs High School student Jaymin Kanzer stopped for a cup of hot cocoa. He picked up a fleece headband that promotes bicycling in Glenwood Springs, provided by the City of Glenwood Springs.


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