(Aspen, CO) Pitkin, Eagle, and Gunnison County will share a $4.9 million grant for energy efficiency improvements from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The grant to the three counties was one of the largest of the 20 awarded across the country. The counties intend to use the funds to provide energy audits, workforce training, energy resource centers and a revolving loan fund to help businesses and residents save energy and money. Additionally, the grant will increase access to energy improvements for residential and commercial users through the financing system approved by local voters last year known locally as the “Energy Smart Program.”
“This is incredible news for us,” said Pitkin County Energy Program Manager, Dylan Hoffman. “A grant award like this has the ability to completely redesign the way our communities use energy.”
“We are very honored and excited to receive this grant,” commented Adam Palmer, Environmental Policy Planner for Eagle County. “The grant application was designed to complement all three counties’ Energy Smart programs and we’re looking forward to collaboratively developing these programs in each community.”
Last November, Pitkin, Eagle and Gunnison counties received voter approval to develop a tri-county Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. Working from that framework, the three counties will create the Resort Communities Retrofit Program designed to “fundamentally and permanently transform demand for energy retrofits and foster permanent job growth and energy conservation, while serving as a nationwide model for other resort communities.”
Andris Zobs, Executive Director for the Office of Resource Efficiency in Gunnison County commented, “This grant demonstrates what small rural communities can achieve by working in concert, it would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of all three counties.”
The goal of the Resort Communities Retrofit Program is to increase the number of retrofitted homes in each county by 10% (a total of 5,400 homes), lower energy use by 20% in each participating home, stimulate the local economy by redirecting under-employed, skilled contracts to “green” jobs, and enhance consumer education and create a sustainable financing model.
The news of the grant found its way to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s office late last week.
“Colorado communities are making great strides to reduce energy consumption through partnerships and innovative financing solutions. The Recovery Act is helping towns and cities across Colorado advance their energy goals and create jobs and a better future for generations to come,” Ritter said.
Colorado expects to receive at least $7.1 billion in Recovery Act funds over the life of the Act.