Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
Grand County Business and Economic Development Association said it very well on their website: A prosperous and resilient economy is built in part, on businesses and families who have the knowledge and ability to control their energy costs. Our regional prosperity and personal security are linked to our ability to pay for heat, electricity, transportation and water. We as a region need to develop solutions to the following: How can we take personal control of energy costs to ensure that we have dollars left to spend or save as we choose? How can we protect ourselves from future fluctuations in global energy prices?
The cyclical nature of energy pricing masks the increasing costs of energy and complicates budget planning. The desire for predictable energy costs provides an opportunity for business people and innovators; Appliance retailers sell energy star rated appliances. Lighting specialists re-lamp commercial buildings. Insulation companies increase attic R-values. Energy auditors track wayward energy. Manufacturers develop convenient wood burning boilers. Solar contractors harness the power of the sun. Pellet manufacturers ship to regions dependent on fuel oil for heating. Ingenious entrepreneurs develop technology to produce electricity, heat and liquid fuel from beetle kill and biomass. From nanotechnology to common sense, the opportunities are bounded only by the laws of physics, the market place and our imagination.

Each county is working on various renewable energy projects. Below is a brief description of initiatives/projects going on in each county(please note this list is not meant to be all-inclusive, it is simply a sampling of projects/initiatives from throughout the region):
Eagle County
Eagle County Energy Resource Center - Eagle County opened its Energy Smart Colorado Resource Center in January 2010, marking the launch of the Energy Smart Colorado for Homes program. The center is located on the second floor of the Miller Ranch Community Center, located at 25 Mill Loft St. in Edwards.
Homeowners are able to sign up for free energy assessments and low-cost improvements aimed at reducing energy bills, as well as learn about Energy Smart rebates, project financing and how to get free advice from trained energy professionals.
Contractors are encouraged to get involved in this program by signing up for Energy Smart training and taking advantage of partners’ promotions and scholarships for continuing education.
A certified energy rater program is being offered which is an Energy Smart partnership with Colorado Mountain College to offer Building Performance Institute (BPI) classes.
The Energy Smart Program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and is a partnership between Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison counties.
Vail and Eagle County selected for sustainability program by University of Colorado Denver - The Town of Vail and Eagle County are among five areas in Colorado to receive a matching grant to inventory energy use and to prioritize future sustainability actions to drive economic and environmental benefits. The $30,000 in total grants comes from the Wal-Mart Foundation in partnership with the University of Colorado Denver Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Systems and the Colorado Municipal League. Vail and Eagle County will each receive a $6,000 grant, with matching funds provided by each entity.
The grant will be used for community-wide energy analysis, carbon footprint measurement and sustainable energy benchmarks for Vail, all unincorporated areas of Eagle County, and the incorporated areas where utility data such as water, sewer and electricity overlap. The grant will also provide future scenario models and recommended actions.

The project builds upon the university’s research and outreach conducted over the last five years with other Colorado cities including Denver, Broomfield, Arvada, Aurora, Central City and Durango and the previous round of communities: Eagle, Dillon, Steamboat Springs, Routt County and Golden. Feedback from previous participants has indicated substantial benefits in showing communities where to refocus their efforts and the substantial payoffs, both environmental and monetary that can be gained.
Next steps include several months of data gathering and evaluation for building and outdoor energy use, guest travel data including mileage attributed to flights and vehicle travel, followed by a final report and community workshop.
Grand County
Grand County BEDA has been awarded a Community Energy Coordinator grant from the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office to provides resources to Grand and Jackson counties to develop a strategic approach to energy use and to support energy related economic development. A regional advisory committee has worked to draft an Energy Strategy. Immediate activities resulting from the plan are six model demonstrations to be completed by April 2012. The activities are designed to: The activities are designed to: Increase the energy literacy of energy consumers, managers and contractors; Demonstrate the building assessment and upgrade process; Demonstrate energy management and benchmarking; Provide accessible models for the local community and for peer groups. Other goals include the installation of biomass pellet heating appliances in the region to spur the transition to local forest based renewable heating fuel and working to re-establish the ski train.
This strategic approach seeks to come up with solutions to the following: What types of support do business owners and entrepreneurs in our region need to make the most of these opportunities? How can existing businesses reduce their energy costs without incurring substantial capital costs? BEDA will administer the grant for two years, providing service to Jackson and Grand County.
Community Power Corporation - Can woody biomass from our forests be turned into energy effectively in Grand County – i.e. to local power and jobs? Community Power Corporation ( ) (CPC) is one of a number of businesses that seeks to answer this question. The company makes wood chip gasification units that are designed to be located at facilities to provide heat and electricity.
Working through a jointly funded Grant with the U.S. Forest Service, CPC has completed an initial assessment of potential installations throughout Grand County. Their BioMax units would operate using local woodchips. CPC's efforts in Grand County have been coordinated with the help of Mountain Parks Electric, Inc. who hosted the kick-off meeting for their work in Grand County.
Assessment team members will provide an overview of their findings, discuss specific grant opportunities which are being pursued to advance the work and to answer questions from members of the community.
Grand County has also amended its zoning regulations to allow for small wind energy systems throughout unincorporated Grand County.
Jackson County
Rocky Mountain Pellet Company is a state of the art wood pellet manufacturer located in Walden, Colorado. The facility produces top quality super premium pine wood pellets that uses 100% pine killed by the mountain pine beetle. The company is very proud that it can help Colorado Forests by utilizing the dead trees. Rocky Mountain Pellet Company chose to locate in Walden, Colorado to help solve the problem of over 1.5 million acres of dead lodgepole pine trees. The infestation of the Colorado Forests by the mountain pine beetle has created a fire hazard for land owners as well as impeding the re-growth of new forests. Rocky Mountain Pellets are a true renewable fuel. Wood pellets have a zero carbon foot print and can be used in private stoves as well as commercial applications. Wood pellets can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help in reducing greenhouse emissions.
Pitkin County
Hydroelectric Energy - In 1885, Aspen became the first American municipality west of the Mississippi to use hydroelectric power. Today, the City of Aspen electric system uses over 70% renewable energy.
The current Maroon Creek hydroelectric plant was built in the late 1980s. Its maximum output is 450 Kilowatts. The Ruedi power plant was built in 1984 and has a capacity of 5.0 megawatts. The City owns the generator building and the water rights, but the dam is controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation. Both power plants sell their energy to the grid, whereas the new Castle Creek plant will directly deliver power to municipal buildings. The City of Aspen is also looking into several micro hydro projects around town.
The long-term goal is to have city-owned facilities run with 100% renewable energy by 2020, and eventually extend this to all Aspen residents. By showing the economic viability of renewable energy integration, the City hopes this model will be adapted worldwide.
Castle Creek Energy Center and Hydroelectric Project - The Castle Creek Energy Center Plan is a key component in providing renewable energy sources to the Aspen community. The Energy Center will be a hydroelectric facility, renewable energy model, education center and museum, producing approximately 8.5% of the annual energy for Aspen's electric customers and reducing CO2 emissions by about 5,000 tons.
Geothermal Energy - Geothermal energy is produced from heat from the Earth’s core and is renewable and carbon-free. Geothermal temperatures vary from place to place and depending on the temperature, it can be used to generate electricity, heat and cool buildings, and run heat snowmelt systems and greenhouses (U.S. DOE 2008). The Aspen geothermal district heating and cooling system will tap into this heat from deep below the Earth’s surface through geothermal exchange by employing a heat pump. Geothermal heat pump systems are made up of networks of pipes buried just below the ground’s surface, a heat exchanger unit, and ductwork into the building. These systems connect to a well, accessing geothermal energy from deep below the ground’s surface. When winter temperatures drop, the relative temperature from this well is warmer and the heat travels through the heat exchanger into the buildings. In summer months, hot air from the buildings is pulled through the heat exchanger into the relatively cooler well, making buildings cooler .
Solar - The City of Aspen has installed the first phase of a solar electric PV system at the water treatment plant. So far, the system is about 21 kilowatts with another 42 kilowatts planned for 2010. Since October 2008, the system has produced almost 36,000 kilowatt hours or the amount of electricity that four average homes use in a year. This has avoided 22.3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The City's plan is to install enough PV to offset all the coal-fired power in the electricity mix that the water plant uses to treat and pump water.
Solar thermal, or solar hot water, is another useful technology. The Burlingame affordable housing neighborhood was designed with solar thermal systems to help preheat hot water in the homes. The Aspen Recreation Center is also exploring solar thermal to heat the water for the pool.
Wind - The City of Aspen’s Electric Utility purchases wind power from wind turbines located in Kimball, Nebraska. Wind power accounts for 27% of the fuel mix used to make our electricity and is carbon free.
Hydrogen - Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the world, but does not provide energy by itself. Hydrogen is often referred to as an energy storage medium, much like a battery, gasoline, or
oil. Hydrogen can be burned to provide fuel for an engine or used in a fuel cell to create electricity and heat. The City of Aspen is exploring the use of hydrogen fuel cells in the medium to long-term to provide heat and electricity for buildings and the water treatment plant rather than using conventional natural gas or electricity provided by the grid. Today most hydrogen is made by reforming natural gas. Aspen is exploring the possibility of producing hydrogen renewably by splitting water using excess power produced by the Castle Creek Hydroelectric plant.
Summit County
High Country Conservation Center - HCCC works to administer programs and promote advocacy for waste reduction, energy conservation, green living and green building for Summit County. Efforts over the last 30 years have recently resulted in Summit County Government institutionalizing the nonprofit’s recycling operations into a stable government department.
The Summit Sustainable Building Program seeks to encourage construction of efficient and healthy buildings by considering the entire life cycle of a building, reducing its overall resource consumption, eliminating or reducing use of toxic materials, and significantly reducing the operating costs of buildings.
The Sustainable Building Program addresses all residential construction and additions. The program is a points-based system in three sections: Mandatory Measures; Secondary Measures, which includes Intensive Energy Measures; and the Sustainable Building Menu.
Governor's Energy Office Rebates: In 2010, the towns of Frisco, Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Summit County Government contributed $35,000 in funds, matched by the Governor's Energy Office, to ensure that Summit County residents would have funding for insulation, duct sealing and boilers. Much of this money was spent by local residents who received rebates. Over 45 local residents reserved insulation rebates. That is 45 more homes weatherized for the winter.
NWCCOG’s Energy Management (Weatherization) Program
NWCCOG’s Energy Management Program, also known as Weatherization, weatherizes low and moderate income homes to reduce their fuel consumption and heating costs. Services include insulation, caulking, weather-stripping, and the installation of storm windows, and new energy-efficient furnaces and refrigerators. NWCCOG is a local administering agency under the Weatherization Assistance Program, and is under contract to the Colorado Governor's Office Weatherization Program. Weatherization has helped preserve affordable housing units in the region. By reducing a household's energy consumption and heating costs, these families have more income available to spend within their local communities.
On July 1, 2009, Weatherization's funding was significantly increased due to ARRA (the Stimulus). This has allowed a corresponding production increase. In the entire previous grant cycle (Weatherization uses the State of Colorado fiscal year of July through June) Weatherization worked on 200 homes; this figure was matched the last week of December 2009, when Weatherization recorded their 200th completion since July 1, 2009.
Old, inefficient furnaces are replaced with 95%-efficient models. Also, refrigerator electricity usage is measured as part of the initial energy audit and refrigerators using excessive amounts of electricity are
replaced with a new Energy Star-rated refrigerator. All old refrigerators are returned to an appliance recycling facility in Denver.
Many of the homes, particularly mobile homes, weatherized in the High Country Weatherization Region have pre-existing health and safety problems. In addition to reducing energy consumption and heating costs, the weatherization process corrects any health and safety problems found, such as gas leaks and carbon monoxide problems. Every home that uses propane or natural gas receives a minimum of two safety inspections.
Weatherization has a main office in Silverthorne and a field office in New Castle. In addition to weatherizing homes within the NWCCOG region, NWCCOG also weatherizes homes in Chaffee, Clear Creek, Garfield, Lake, Moffat, Park, Rio Blanco, and Routt Counties.
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