Garfield Clean Energy seeks volunteers for energy plan update; sessions start May 11

Volunteers are being sought to help with a collaborative effort to update Garfield County’s Energy Action Plan for the first time in five years.

The project is being spearheaded by Garfield Clean Energy, Clean Energy Economy for the Region and Xcel Energy.

Written in 2017, the current plan updated and refined GCE’s goals for increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy and mapped out steps for meeting the goals.

GCE is an intergovernmental collaborative including Garfield County and its six municipalities, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Colorado Mountain College and Holy Cross Energy.

“Energy is the lifeblood of our society, and we’re in the process of literally transforming our entire energy system,” Jason White, RFTA planner and GCE board chair, said in a news release announcing the plan update.

“Planning our energy future is as critical as planning, say, transportation or housing,” he said. “This collaborative, integrated approach to planning is key to maintaining a strong, resilient community.”

The 2017 plan estimated that Garfield County spends a collective $68 million annually on energy, excluding transportation, said Maisa Metcalf, director of programs and services at CLEER, the nonprofit that runs GCE’s programs.

The updated plan seeks to account for the changing landscape when it comes to energy, including commitments from electric utilities to achieve aggressive renewable energy goals, new legislative incentives and the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, and the charging infrastructure to support them, Metcalf said in the release.

For its part, GCE in recent years has implemented a countywide “solarize” campaign, promoted a standardized approach to solar permitting, accelerated community-scale solar projects, and helped to boost participation in residential and commercial energy-efficiency programs, Metcalf said.

The Energy Action Plan update is being facilitated by Xcel’s Partners in Energy program. The process formally kicks off on May 11, and community members are invited to participate.

How to get involved

Garfield Clean Energy is seeking residents interested in serving on the energy planning team tasked with setting the goals and strategies to be included in the updated Garfield County Energy Action Plan.

Volunteers are asked to participate in a series of three facilitated discussions with energy experts, utility representatives and other stakeholders. The sessions will be held in Glenwood Springs on May 11, June 15 and July 13. Each will last from 10 a.m. to noon, and lunch will be provided.

Community members from all parts of Garfield County are encouraged to join the planning team. In addition, there will be an opportunity for the general public to provide input through a survey.

For more information on workshops and how to receive the survey, contact Christina Matzl at or 970-704-9200, ext. 1105.

The 2022 plan is intended to update the countywide energy goals and identify specific, actionable strategies to achieve them in commercial, residential and institutional buildings, business, industrial and agricultural operations, renewable energy, design and construction, and in developing policies and funding sources, the release states.

The new plan will also address transportation, which wasn’t included in the 2017 plan.

Glenwood Springs City Council member Ingrid Wussow serves as vice chair for GCE.

“Rather than each community just creating a local plan, joining together as a countywide effort, GCE has been able to dramatically increase energy efficiency and renewable energy, especially for a rural region,” Wussow said in the release.

GCE’s strong emphasis on data tracking is an essential part of the mix, Wussow added.

“Lots of jurisdictions and utilities have ambitious energy or emissions targets, but it’s tough to deliver on those targets without the full package that we’ve got here … with specific action steps, effective programs to carry out the steps, and ongoing tracking of progress against the targets,” she said.

The plan update is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the release states.

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