Garfield County, groups go after $2M state energy grant |

Garfield County, groups go after $2M state energy grant

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A growing regional push to apply for a $2 million state grant to improve energy efficiency and conservation efforts in the area got the thumbs up from Garfield County commissioners Monday.The commissioners agreed to have the county sign on with Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) in their efforts to pursue a grant from the recently announced New Energy Communities Initiative. That program has been established by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s Energy Office.The state has cobbled together $10 million for the initiative, with $2 million awarded per region. The purpose behind the program is to “maximize energy efficiency and conservation, enhance community livability, promote economic development in downtowns and address climate change,” according to state information about the program. Some potential uses of the money could include receiving design assistance to maximize energy efficiency in new public facilities, financing and technical assistance for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at wastewater treatment plants.The initiative is a competitive grant program that requires “regional collaborative proposals,” according to a memo from CLEER. So far Garfield County and the city of Glenwood Springs have agreed to join in the program, said Heather McGregor, communications director for CLEER. The groups behind the project also plan to meet with Basalt, Parachute, Carbondale and the Roaring Fork School District Re-1, New Castle and Silt and Rifle.The effort to get the grant comes after Aspen Skiing Co., Colorado Rocky Mountain School, the town of Carbondale and others all collaborated to install a large solar array system at the school.U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Ritter were among hundreds of people who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week for the solar system.Garfield County commissioners voted to join the effort, with the county agreeing 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 that if the grant is awarded to the area, Garfield County would be responsible for distributing the $2 million that might be awarded for various projects that could be contemplated.”I am very excited about this,” said Commissioner Trési Houpt. “I think it is certainly timely. We have a long way to go, in terms of a county, in becoming more efficient. This is wonderful.”Commissioner John Martin said he supports getting behind the proposals, but added that many other issues down the road will have to be ironed out, such as the county and other jurisdictions making possible land use regulation changes that will allow various projects to proceed.There is not a specific local match required to receive the grant, but if the group pulls in a significant amount of money from participating groups, that could strengthen the region’s proposal to the Department of Local Affairs, according to CLEER.It is expected that county commissioners will consider appropriating money from the county’s 2009 budget to help match the grant in early September, the CLEER memo said.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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