Breckenridge candidate Q&A: Do you support the proposed outdoor energy mitigation program?

At a time when the residents of our community are already burdened with the highest energy costs they have seen since 2009, I could not support a program that would impose increased financial burden on the people of Breckenridge without any clear benefit to them. This proposal would create new costs for all residents in Breckenridge because the majority of homes in our community include one (or more) of the following: snowmelt systems, natural gas fireplaces, heated pools and hot tubs.

Bureaucrats have come up with slick phrases like “economic price signals to reduce excessive outdoor energy use” to hide the truth: Energy costs, taxes and fees are going to increase significantly. Town Council must demand that the proponents of this proposed program carefully account for all of its costs, benefits and the impacts before it imposes any new mandates on residents. Overall, our community needs balance and common sense when it comes to energy policy.

— Ally “For The People” Doolin

At this time, there is no specific ordinance being considered, so there are many questions yet to be asked. In general, I am supportive of mitigating excessive outdoor energy use, but I will not support any piece of legislation where limited resources could make implementation and enforcement difficult and inconsistent. While I am supportive of green initiatives, I have been hearing from local builders about the challenges with our green building code. Well-intentioned builders are having a hard time figuring out how to comply, and the town needs to be in a better position to be a resource. I believe we need to look closely at any national standard or formulas and make sure it translates to our unique climate and makes sense locally.

I believe it is important to have continuity throughout these codes — how the indoor and outdoor energy codes work together holistically and keep consistency as much as possible in the codes across our county and towns.

— Carol Saade

Yes, I am in favor of all alternative energy sources; however, I do not support this coming in the form of a tax or bill to existing homeowners. Rather, homeowners should be rewarded for entering these programs through tax breaks or direct reimbursements. Adding solar to existing town structures should also be investigated.

— Jason Libby

Yes, it is important that the town of Breckenridge is an environmental leader, and this program is a step in the right direction.

— Todd Rankin

I do not support the outdoor energy mitigation program. I feel it’s a government overreach and completely unnecessary. The only thing I can figure is it makes people in the town feel good about beating up the rest of the town residents.

— Tom Day

I need more information. Every form of energy has a cost. Putting up a solar panel or paying a fee doesn’t stop your hot tub from heating the environment. Also, what is the true impact to greenhouse gasses of occasionally turning on an electric snowmelt system when it snows, compared to operating a snowblower? How much energy did it take to create the solar panels used as an “offset.” What is the environmental damage caused by disposal of the batteries from the solar panel when they reach their life span? It sounds fine in theory, but real life is often much more complicated.

— Lenny Weisberg

I have a meeting with Jessica Burley, the town’s sustainability manager, to discuss the specifics of this program and the direction she sees this department moving in the future. Currently, I don’t have an opinion on the proposed program. In general, creating programs that help Breckenridge lessen its impact on the environment are a great thing.

— Nathan Moorefield

I think it’s important that the town continue to encourage energy efficiency, conservation and renewable-energy offsets.

— Mike Zobbe

Climate change is real, and the Outdoor Energy Mitigation Program is a commonsense way of offsetting some of the impacts caused by heated driveways, walkways, hot tubs and outdoor fireplaces. The current development code incentivizes energy conservation based on indoor energy savings and disincentivizes excessive outdoor energy uses with that we have seen can be easily offset with simple landscaping or even an electric vehicle charging station. Sustainability should be encouraged, and the fee in lieu seems like a tool, but it should not be the only metric.

The planning and building departments are still embracing the new building code that was not designed for Climate Zone 7, and adding a new initiative that sits on the current code may convolute it further. It is important to view the program not just from the positive intentions, but the real-life consequences and causes of the issues we are trying to solve. If a property sits in the shade and is not a candidate for solar, should it cost the homeowner $30,000 additional for a hot tub? Perhaps this is a time for reflection on town’s practices of heated sidewalks, parking structure and gas vehicles and continue to lead by example.

— Jay Beckerman

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.