A cloudy future for CLEER’s efforts with Garfield County’s New Energy Communities Initiative | PostIndependent.com

A cloudy future for CLEER’s efforts with Garfield County’s New Energy Communities Initiative

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” At only the second advisory board meeting for the Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative, board members were notified by Garfield County commissioners that they would have to bid out the work to contractors in order to continue the work of the $2 million initiative.

It’s a simple task that has to be taken in order for work to continue, but complications arise because the initiative is currently under the supervision of The Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) organization. CLEER is a local nonprofit started by Alice Laird and Heather McGregor, who also did the grunt work that launched the initiative.

“It’s not a big deal,” said Laird, CLEER’s director. “It’s just a reality. It is what it is.”

The plot thickens by the passage in November of Amendment 54, which states that contractors with a no-bid contract are barred from making political contributions. The amendment’s broad scope extends to family members and board members of the contractor. Therefore, if CLEER distributed the initiative’s funds without that job going out to contract, anyone involved with CLEER, including Laird and McGregor, board members, staff and their families, most likely would be prohibited from making political contributions of any kind. That’s the area of frustration for Laird.

“It’s one thing to say that we won’t [be able to make contributions], but it’s another thing to have it affect family members,” Laird said.

CLEER will continue work on the initiative for 90 days, during which time the Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative advisory board, made up of representatives from the county, each of the counties’ municipalities, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, and the Garfield County Library District, will write a request for proposal.

“In any government procurement the public interest is best served by publishing the needs for services,” said Carbondale Mayor and Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative chairman Michael Hassig. “What’s funny in this case is the enterprise and formation of the council and the application for the DOLA grant, and collaboration of all the entities, all came about through work done by Alice and Heather.”

Yet they could potentially lose their role as the controlling organization if another contractor wins the bid.

However, Laird and Hassig agreed that the focus should remain on the work that needs to be done.

“This is a necessary hurdle to get over in order to proceed with the work at hand,” Hassig said.

“We’re just focused on moving forward,” Laird said. “It’s more important that this succeeds. Our main goal is to make sure that these programs result in real energy savings and move beyond the concept phase and into implementation.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114


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