The Sopris Sun

Clean Energy 2020 offers plan for hitting targets

Sopris Sun Staff Report

Carbondale appears to be making progress toward clean energy goals: since 2009, more than 216 homes and businesses have made improvements; government and school facilities have cut energy use 15 to 27 percent, according to a press release; and  solar panels town-wide produce 701 kilowatts of electricity.

But given goals of increasing energy efficiency 20 percent, reducing petroleum consumption 25 percent and generating 35 percent of electricity from renewable energy by 2020, there is more work to do, said organizers of the Clean Energy 2020 open house at the Third Street Center on Monday night.

Recent reports on rising global temperatures are focusing increased national attention to how the U.S. can address climate change.

“Our community is taking targets seriously and is working to determine what actions, at what scale, are needed to meet targets,” said Carbondale Trustee Frosty Merriott. “The upfront investment in energy improvements will result in a lower community-wide energy bill and create many other community benefits.”

Clean Energy 2020 — a joint project of CLEER, CORE, the town of Carbondale and the Carbondale Environmental Board — held the open house to share progress to date and seek input.  A Technical and Financial Advisory Committee (TFAC) has been working to develop a plan for how Carbondale can use energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet targets, and identify funding options for selected programs.

One scenario calculates that by installing energy-saving measures in 1,200 homes — half the homes in town — and in 60 more businesses, combined with doubling the amount of solar electric systems (or the equivalent of 800 kilowatts of power-generating capacity), Carbondale could meet adopted climate targets. These energy improvements could be achieved with investing $1.1 million per year over the next five years.

By comparison, the community currently spends about $7 million per year to heat, light and power homes, businesses, governments and schools. Achieving the energy efficiency goal could save the community $1.4 million a year, according to Erica Sparhawk, CLEER program manager.

Open house participants were asked to give feedback on five options that would provide a baseline of funding for community-wide clean energy improvements and could be paired with larger funding sources such as bonds.

Options include dedicating a portion of energy-related franchise fees paid to the town government by energy utilities, dedicating a portion of the severance tax revenues received by the town government, a retail sales tax, or adding a fee on monthly electric, natural gas or water bills.

The TFAC will be making a recommendation to the Carbondale Board of Trustees later this summer on funding options and proposed measures to enact them.

Door prizes and additional support for the open house were provided by Aspen Global Change Institute, Colorado Mountain College, Roaring Fork High School Energy Club, All-Phase Electric Supply, Dos Gringos Burritos, Custom Body Fitness, Mi Casita, RFTA, Sunsense Solar, Town. restaurant and The Village Smithy.