$227K for energy efficiency from ARRA funding headed to County | PostIndependent.com

$227K for energy efficiency from ARRA funding headed to County

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County will receive $227,500 in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for energy efficiency and conservation efforts locally.

Part of a larger $42.6 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant package for Colorado counties, municipalities and Native American tribal territories, the grants are intended for projects that reduce total energy use and fossil fuel emissions, and improve energy efficiency.

Local leaders will have some flexibility in how the money is put to use within those parameters.

“From the looks of it, we can use it for whatever energy efficiency applications we want to use it for,” Garfield County Administrator Ed Green said.

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One possibility may be to enhance energy efficient designs on two new facilities the county has budgeted for construction this year ” the human services and sheriff’s office annex projects in Rifle.

The funds could also help supplement the county’s $1.6 million energy efficiency grant from the state, for which the recently adopted intergovernmental Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative was set up to administer.

“It appears there are a range of options for use of the (federal) money,” Green said. “We will ask the county commissioners how they want to apply those funds.”

Nathan Ratledge, acting director for the Carbondale-based Community Office for Resource Efficiency, said the stimulus dollars for energy efficiency and conservation have been a topic of much speculation in recent weeks.

“It’s really exciting that this money is coming into Colorado, and especially to these local communities,” Ratledge said. “But the specifics on how the money will be used are still a little gray.”

Most of Colorado’s share of the energy efficiency money was designated for Front Range cities and counties. The Governor’s Energy Office will retain about $9.6 million for statewide efforts.

Besides Garfield County, the only other Western Slope governments specifically receiving the federal funds will be Mesa County ($359,800) and the city of Grand Junction ($229,800). The Southern Ute and Ute Mountain tribes in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah will also receive a combined $146,900 for reservation-based projects aimed at energy efficiency.

“These grants mean jobs for Coloradans, and they will lead to new solutions to help us save energy and strengthen our economy for the long term,” U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said in a prepared statement announcing the grants last week. “And the best thing is that local communities are going to call the shots about how we can best put this money to use.”

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