Summit County energy plan almost a go |

Summit County energy plan almost a go

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news

Summit County Government is soon to be on board with endorsing the finalized Summit County Energy Action Plan as created by the county’s energy advisory group.

It’s ready to sign a letter of support, so long as several small criteria are met. Commissioner Thomas Davidson said he wants to see the plan and the county’s letter of endorsement touch on the public health benefits of becoming more energy efficient. He’d also like to include a system of measurable results as the plan guides decision- and policy-making down the road.

Commissioner Dan Gibbs suggested the advisory group take a close look at sustainable food programs and the feasibility of large-scale production. He also asked them to look into a new grant program for renewable energy as a teaching tool at schools. The grant helps school districts install solar arrays or geothermal systems that can be incorporated into lesson plans.

There was some discussion about how the county government could play a role in plan objectives with the tight ship it’s running – such as the inability to grant tax incentives. Instead, Davidson suggested tapping into the public’s apparent desire for clean energy and request a tax increase on the 2012 ballot.

The energy plan is meant to catalyze local action, while providing countywide guidance and opportunities for collaboration to “make our entire county a model of energy efficiency, energy security and energy independence,” the drafted letter reads.

Primary goals in the plan include 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction, 20 percent energy use reduction in buildings and operations and increase waste diversion to 50 percent by 2020. It also includes increasing renewable energy production and decreasing vehicle miles traveled and fuel used over time.

“It’s been a long time in the making and we are ready now,” High Country Conservation Center energy programs manager Lynne Greene said, adding that though the plan has only recently gotten the official support of Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne, parts of it are already under way.

Other than outreach and training that are ongoing, the Frisco CleanTracks business incentive program has proven to be successful and is something the group wants to take to other communities to encourage commercial energy efficiency.

The group has also been moving forward on the renewable energy objective: They want to be at the front of the line when Xcel Energy releases its guidelines and begins accepting applications for solar garden incentives.

The advisory group doesn’t intend to stop with the local governments (Breckenridge hasn’t signed a letter, but appears to be on board with its actions and discussions). The group is also meeting with ski area officials to get support.

“I’m anxious to get it going,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said.

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