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Garco receives energy initiative grant

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced Tuesday that 10 Garfield County governments and groups received a $1.6 million grant to implement energy efficiency and conservation programs in the area.

That money is largely expected to help fund programs over the next few years to ramp up energy efficiency in new and existing buildings in the county and to install solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays in every community in Garfield County.

The money will also help pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs for homes and small businesses, along with code work aimed at improving the energy efficiency of new homes and neighborhoods.



The local effort received the most money out of 14 grant recipients throughout Colorado, who will all share $10 million from energy impact funds from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Governor’s Energy Office. The money will go to pay for clean energy projects.

“These 14 projects will enhance livability, strengthen the economy and reward regional collaboration throughout Colorado,” Ritter said of the grant program, which he calls the “New Energy Communities Initiative.”



Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) was the group that spearheaded the effort for the regional partnership to receive the grant. The group appeared before leaders in Garfield County, Parachute, Rifle, Silt, New Castle, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale to have those governments sign on to their effort to obtain the state grant.

The Garfield County Public Library District, the Roaring Fork School District, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and several other utilities and businesses were also involved in the effort to receive the New Energy Communities Initiative grant.

“We’re delighted that our region is receiving this major investment in clean energy, and know that it will result in measurable energy cost savings for local governments, households, and businesses,” said Alice Hubbard Laird, director of CLEER. “The grant will also serve as a catalyst to spur even greater clean energy improvements and investments over the long term.”

All the groups and governments pledged $506,000 in local cash match and more than $1.2 million in in-kind match for 2009. However, those figures are contingent on final budget approvals. The group’s grant application also proposed setting aside $250,000 “as seed funding for a clean energy investment fund.”

“Garfield County has been a leader in conventional energy production, and now with the $1.6 million grant we can become one of the leaders in energy efficiency and be sustainable,” said Parachute Trustee Judi Hayward, who also worked on the grant project. “The community projects we have planned will be visible for all residents to see and learn.”

The members of the Garfield County New Energy Communities working group, which met in the summer to shape the grant proposal, will meet on Oct. 23 to plan how they will implement the grant funding in the community.

In July, Garfield County commissioners voted to act as a “fiscal agent” for the group’s effort, along with providing a staff member to help with the grant application.

Being a fiscal agent means Garfield County is responsible for distributing the $1.6 million that might be awarded for the proposed clean energy projects.


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