Garfield Clean Energy is out to make Garfield County the most energy efficient county in the U.S.
Such a lofty goal would provide a big boost to the local economy, too, two representatives told Rifle City Council on Sept. 5.
Garfield Clean Energy is a collaboration between government entities and others in the county, and provides guidance and some funding help for energy efficiency improvements in homes and businesses.
Tom Baker noted energy efficiency itself is a "significant" economic development factor. He said between 2009 and 2020, $3 billion is expected to be spent on energy by all users in the county.
"If we increase energy efficiency by 20 percent over that time, we will keep $297 million in the local economy instead of paying that much in energy bills," Baker said. "And our projections show energy efficiency will create 250 to 300 full-time jobs over that time."
If that 20 percent energy efficiency goal is achieved by 2020, Baker added, energy users in the county will save $67 million a year.
"Or we can spend $80 million on foreign oil over that same time," he said. "We really believe that 20 percent goal is doable in nearly all cases."
Jeff Dickinson said the city has made energy efficiency improvements such as turning off lights in unused buildings and installing programmable thermostats.
"You've seen significant savings of $17,400 a year, plus $31,000 in performance savings, so you're close to $50,000 in energy savings," Dickinson noted.
Garfield Clean Energy's $500,000 yearly budget will lose a $160,000 grant next year, Baker said, so he hopes Rifle will at least continue its $38,000 contribution, if not increase the amount.
Mayor Jay Miller was impressed with energy efficiency savings.
"Our local housing authority did some energy upgrades and saw savings in the next month," he said. "I think you're a great resource in the county."
Councilman Keith Lambert sits on the groups' board and said in order to continue its success, Garfield Clean Energy will need the city and others to continue providing "seed money."
"Personally, I'd like to see the city use its $38,000 as our ante and at least keep the status quo," he said. "But that $17,400 savings could also be used for seed money to help you do more of these projects."
City Council will consider funding Garfield Clean Energy during the upcoming budget process.