Post Independent opinion: Glenwood should proceed with energy-efficiency upgrades |

Post Independent opinion: Glenwood should proceed with energy-efficiency upgrades

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The upfront cost of any investment is always tough to swallow. But, as any financial advisor will emphasize, it’s the return on that investment that matters most.

And in the matter of Glenwood Springs City Council’s pending decision on whether to enter into a $1.1 million energy performance contract for its phase II energy efficiency improvements, it’s an investment we can’t afford not to make.

The work has been in the planning stages for the past two years since council adopted the city’s 2009 Climate Action Plan, and City Council invested in an intensive energy audit of its key buildings in 2010.

As the climate plan urged, and as Councilman Stephen Bershenyi stated at a recent council meeting, proceeding with the work necessary to realize the city’s energy savings goals is “the right thing to do.”

The money to do the necessary improvements at City Hall and in other city facilities to achieve the desired savings is not coming from general fund reserves. If that were the case, we would share the concerns of council members who are hesitant to proceed at this time.

Rather, these are reserves built up in the city’s utility and acquisition and improvements funds, which are set aside for just these sorts of things.

It does, however, mean that some other utility-related projects may have to wait. But if it’s a matter of weighing where to spend that money, energy conservation is the clear winner.

The funds are available, the city is in an enviable position to be able to afford to proceed with the work, and the city will start realizing savings on energy costs immediately. The $1.1 million investment is expected to pay back within 14 years between energy and operational savings. It’s the same as earning 7 percent interest on an investment – not bad in this economy.

After that, the savings is all gravy, and the taxpayers of Glenwood Springs will be proud of their city leaders for having the foresight to pursue these projects now.

We’d also like to challenge the city government staff to pump up the savings from these capital improvements by taking everyday steps to conserve energy. In addition to installing high-efficiency lighting, heating and cooling systems, city staff could multiply the energy savings by curbing energy-wasting habits, such as leaving lights on all day.

If necessary, the city could get some free advice on this from the Carbondale Middle School Energy Champions.

Meanwhile, we encourage the City Council to move forward with performance contracting for energy efficiency. It makes good financial sense to invest in these high-yield projects.

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