Ambitions to create ‘green machine’ hit hurdle
A proposed merger of two environmental organizations into one authority promoting energy efficiency throughout the region has been scrapped.The Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) and Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) will continue to pursue similar missions but separately, according to officials with the organizations. CORE’s board of directors informed CLEER officials this week that they wouldn’t pursue the merger further.”All we know is the CORE board decided not to pursue the merger,” said CLEER spokeswoman Heather McGregor.Patti Clapper, chair of CORE’s board and a Pitkin County commissioner, said the reorganization was more complex than anticipated. Creating a regional entity among several local governments requires detailed planning on how to collect revenues, disperse services and divvy up decision-making, she said. Similar hurdles had to be crossed when local governments created the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.CORE and CLEER had worked on reorganization issues since January.”Let me say that it is not a matter of whether or not this reorganization makes sense or doesn’t make sense for CORE,” Clapper said in an e-mail interview. “The CORE board decided to discontinue the reorganization effort/discussion because of timing and because of time. CORE needs to get back to ‘business as usual.'”CORE was created by Aspen and Pitkin County 14 years ago. Snowmass Village and Holy Cross Energy are also partners in the organization. CORE is probably best known for collecting a mitigation fee from residential builders who exceed an energy budget, then plowing those funds into energy-efficiency programs. CORE also provides rebates for residents who buy energy-efficient appliances.CLEER is the new kid on the block. Its funding for 2007 came from a $100,000 grant from CORE.Members of both organizations’ boards of directors expressed support for a merger. The idea first came up when the organizations discussed making “a bigger bang working together,” said Jacque Whitsitt, chair of the CLEER board.Last month, CORE board member and Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig said, “Everybody I know thinks this is a good idea.” Hassig couldn’t be reached Thursday for comment on the scrapped plan.Whitsitt said Thursday that a merged organization could have probably leveraged funds better and that combining the two boards and staffs would have brought “more diversity to the table.”However, Whitsitt also said she felt CLEER has built momentum and will work well on its own. CLEER is seeking a $2 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to promote energy efficiency and conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other goals, from Carbondale to Parachute.Clapper said CORE’s board plans to hold a meeting soon to prioritize its goals and update its strategic plan.McGregor said she sees a need for both organizations. They can pursue plenty of projects without duplicating efforts.”CORE does a great job at what they’re doing,” she said. “If we’re doing the same thing, we’ll be doing it in different places.”More can be found about CLEER at http://www.cleanenergyeconomy.net and about CORE at http://www.aspencore.org.
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