Community scrutinizes ‘energy action plan’ |

Community scrutinizes ‘energy action plan’

When about 50 community members came together recently over the county’s energy action plan, the energy advisory group received feedback that should help move the plan forward politically as well as direct specific ways to prioritize and execute action items.

The initiative is funded in several counties by the Governor’s Energy Office and run locally through High Country Conservation Center. It’s meant to outline ways to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 2007 levels by 2020. It lists goals and ways to achieve those goals in the built environment, renewable energy, transportation and waste reduction – starting in the public sector and moving into the private sector, such as ski resorts, over time.

High County Conservation Center’s Lynne Westerberg finished compiling the forum’s comments on Wednesday, and said all comment cards supported the plan – giving it more clout as the group moves it forward in the public arena. In particular, the comments show community support for items some town council members and county commissioners balk at, like pay-as-you-throw trash programs and waste hauler regulations.

In terms of waste reduction, the community “supports asking haulers to do more,” Westerberg said. “If the community wants to regulate the waste stream, haulers need to be on board.”

Westerberg admitted that the representation of people at last week’s forum was a small, self-selected sample, “but there’s not much we can do about it if they’re not talking to us,” she said. However, the group aims to get a better cross-sample by continuing to present the plan to various groups such as builders and business associations.

The community feedback does more than show support for the plan, Westerberg said. The comments provided specific ideas about how to accomplish certain items, and they help prioritize what’s important to county residents.

Participants noted the action items they thought best to tackle immediately:

• Streamline local building permit procedures to facilitate installations of on-site renewable energy systems in residential and commercial buildings;

• Increase use of public transportation in Summit County;

• Consider requiring Summit County trash haulers to offer residential and commercial recycling and composting services;

• Develop and promote creative funding options for residential, commercial and public renewable energy, and;

• Identify locations and options that would be most appropriate for community-scale and/or utility-scale production of renewable energy.

Comments also broadened the scope of renewable energy by suggesting the group look at power through micro-hydroelectric operations, biofuels and biomass. In terms of transportation, community members wanted the Summit Stage to consider circular or express routes to encourage more travel.

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