County could invest more in energy efficiency |

County could invest more in energy efficiency

Thank you for the Jan. 20 PI story on Garfield Clean Energy. The town of Carbondale prides itself on being a member of this important collaborative countywide effort. There are several additional points I think are worth noting:

The article mentioned that Garfield County feels that it is putting in the majority of the funding for GCE. However, the article did not mention that the town of Carbondale and city of Glenwood Springs put in supplementary amounts for energy efficiency, which brings their cumulative total energy efficiency funding to higher levels than the county.

The town of Carbondale’s 2015 budget includes over $175,000 for energy efficiency/clean energy programs that work in tandem with GCE. This funding supplements GCE funding and allows for rebates and programs within the town of Carbondale. The city of Glenwood Springs municipal utility also provides extra funding to provide rebates within the city, which brings its total to more than the county’s share. We believe in setting an example and being the change we want to see.

Carbondale has also adopted a policy of dedicating at minimum 20 percent of the money the town receives from mineral severance and mineral lease funding to reaching adopted energy targets — a copy of this policy can be viewed on the town of Carbondale website. It is our hope that other towns, counties and maybe even the state would join Carbondale in dedicating a set percentage of mineral severance and mineral lease funding to energy efficiencies, renewables and reaching energy targets.

In theory, this money should be mitigating and/or planning for the time in the future when we do not have ready access to fossil fuels. Don’t get me wrong, either: Natural gas production is a very important part of our local, state and national economies, but it should also be viewed for what it is, a bridge to a future when fossil fuels, if available, will be too expensive to access.

In addition, funding for energy efficiency incentives is made available from the REMP program in Pitkin/Aspen, and Garfield County residents can tap this money if they live in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. This funding is not available west of Glenwood Springs.

Eagle County has an entire department devoted to sustainability; energy efficiency is a county priority. The Eagle County 2015 budget includes over $300,000 for energy efficiency alone. Garfield County has the financial ability to be investing more in this important effort, and in doing so, would help families and businesses countywide while helping build an economy that will be robust and sustainable when the gas is gone. I would urge Garfield County to match Carbondale’s dedication percentage of mineral severance funds.

After all, energy efficiency and clean energy programs have shown themselves to be an important part of economic development as well as a way of protecting the quality of life in our county. Clean air, clean water and a sustainable economy should only be a few of the legacies we leave our grandchildren. Or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Frosty Merriott is a Carbondale town trustee.

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