RIFLE — A team of operators who cut electric use by 20 percent at the Rifle wastewater plant were among those honored Friday night at the Garfield Clean Energy Innovation Awards event.
Garfield Clean Energy nominated 31 households, businesses and local governments for the second annual awards. At the awards dinner, which took place at Grand River Health in Rifle, presenters handed out 18 awards in 12 categories.
Garfield Clean Energy is a partnership of 10 local governments in Garfield County, and is the state’s first intergovernmental clean energy authority. CLEER: Clean Energy Economy for the Region, manages the programs and services of Garfield Clean Energy.
The awards event began with a keynote talk by Keith Lambert, a Garfield Clean Energy founder and former mayor of Rifle.
“Garfield Clean Energy and CLEER are moving toward achieving the vision of becoming the most energy efficient county in the United States,” said Lambert. “But we can’t do it alone. We need all of you to join in and help. We need you to enlist your friends. We need you to influence others.”
The award presentations that followed Lambert’s talk recognized those who are taking action to achieve the organization’s energy efficiency vision.
Rifle wastewater plant operators Devin Jameson, Pat Lake and David Gallegos won the Active Energy Management award after spending months experimenting with the plant’s equipment to drive down its energy use.
“They made changes in the way they operate the oxidation ditches, the interchange tanks and the clarifier tanks,” said Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for Holy Cross Energy, who presented the award.
“They gradually dialed back the mechanical systems to trim electrical use while maintaining high quality plant operations,” she added.
The changes brought down overall electrical use and cut the plant’s demand spikes, which influence the price the city pays for electricity.
Glenwood Springs Electric, the city-owned electric utility, won the Renewable Energy Innovator Award for building the wind, hydro and solar power portions of its power mix to 32 percent.
“At this point, the cleanest electricity available in Garfield County is in Glenwood Springs Electric territory,” said award presenter Ryan Grobler, owner of FridgeWize.
Holy Cross Energy won the Best Utility Rebate Program award for its comprehensive WE CARE program.
“Holy Cross Energy has a deep commitment to offering incentives for customers to install solar and hydropower renewable systems,” said presenter Judi Hayward of Parachute, “and it offers rebates for everything from appliances to massive lighting and equipment overhauls.”
Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky presented the Accelerating CNG to Kris Swallow of Swallow Oil Co. Swallow’s father, Kirk, opened the county’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in 2011. The fueling station was essential for giving fleet owners the confidence to buy CNG-powered vehicles.
“While CNG advocates in Garfield County were puzzling over how to solve the chicken-and-egg problem, Kirk cracked the egg,” Jankovsky said. “Kirk’s vision for CNG set everything in motion.”
The second transportation award went to Rego Omerigic, fleet manager for the White River National Forest, for his persistence in adding electric and CNG vehicles to the Forest Service fleet.
Awards also went to contractors who racked up the most energy upgrade jobs within the Garfield Clean Energy Challenge, an effort under way since 2010 to improve energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings.
Five businesses were recognized for different aspects of deep energy upgrades, including greatest energy savings, largest percentage of energy savings, most dollars invested and most comprehensive package of energy upgrades.
Orrison Distributing of Glenwood Springs won the award for greatest energy savings after carrying out a lighting overhaul in its warehouse south of Glenwood Springs. The company saved $16,000 on its energy bills in the first eight months after the upgrade. The job was done by R&A Enterprises, which also won the Garfield Clean Energy Lighting Contractor award.
Crystal Glass Studio of Carbondale took the prize for the most comprehensive package of energy upgrades. Owners Mary and John Matchael added a rental apartment to their Carbondale manufacturing studio and gallery. They built a well-insulated space, installed a solar hot water heating system and gave the gallery a high-efficiency lighting upgrade.