2022 Energy Action Plan for Garfield County [DRAFT]

Since 2010, Garfield Clean Energy has been an innovative leader in advancing energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation to protect the environment and build a strong, resilient and diverse economy. With the help of Xcel Energy Partners in Energy and CLEER, GCE is working to update the countywide Energy Action Plan that has guided its programs and services since 2017.

A volunteer working group and project team has analyzed energy use trends in Garfield County and has proposed updated goals and strategies, which will be incorporated into the new Energy Action Plan in late 2022. The following summarizes their recommendations.

GOAL 1: Energy Savings in the Built Environment

Achieve at least 12% energy savings by 2030 over a 2019 baseline, requiring at least 1.5% savings per year. As technology and funding improves, work for increased total savings.

Analysis shows that energy use has increased faster than population in the past five years, so achieving a 1.5% annual reduction is an ambitious goal. Yet it is doable – and good for the local economy. Energy-efficiency projects assisted by GCE to date are shaving $2.3 million annually off the county’s collective energy bill.

Strategies include:

  • Ramp up programs to help homes and businesses save energy, with additional
    rebates and financing
  • Expand GCE’s innovative approach to data-driven Active Energy Management
  • Provide technical assistance and incentives for best-practice new buildings
    Advise local governments on adopting the most advanced building codes

The total cost of energy used in Garfield County homes, businesses and industries is $65 million annually.

GOAL 2: Carbon-Free Electricity

Garfield County electricity will be 100% carbon-free by 2030 through grid-supplied resources and local renewable installations.

Garfield County has seen dramatic growth in solar over the past decade and is regarded as a solar leader in Colorado. While utilities are working to make the grid cleaner, increased local renewables and storage will be critical for meeting the 100% goal and for realizing local resilience and economic benefits.

Strategies include:

  • Expand programs such as Solarize Garfield County to help more people and businesses harness the benefits of solar
  • Seek additional sites and opportunities for community-scale solar
  • Pursue other local renewables including geothermal and microhydro

Garfield County’s total solar capacity – including both net metered (rooftop) and community-scale – is now estimated at 18 MW.

GOAL 3: Clean Mobility

Transition at least 15% of all registered vehicles to zero-emissions electric by 2030; support alternative fuels where electric is not yet feasible or where alt fuels are desirable; increase biking, walking and transit mode share.

Garfield County is a leader in use of alternative fuels to date, and is a top nationwide rural county for available EV infrastructure and rate of EV ownership. The goal of 15% EVs by 2030 is tied to the state’s goal.

Strategies include:

  • Continue to increase access to EV infrastructure
  • Provide technical assistance and incentives to accelerate fleet conversions
  • Harness state and federal funding to ensure access to EVs for all
  • Support alternatives to driving through programs, code updates and outreach

EV use in Garfield County has increased rapidly in the last several years and is poised for rapid growth.

GOAL 4: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By 2030, reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to electricity use by 100% and emissions from natural gas use by 10%.

The working group and Partners in Energy team have recommended adding this new goal as a metric for tracking progress and to be responsive to those communities that have emissions-reduction goals. While the previous three goals contribute to reducing emissions, strategies in this goal area focus on shifting from natural gas to electricity to leverage an increasingly cleaner grid.

Strategies include:

  • Promote programs and incentives for building electrification
  • Work with the natural gas industry to eliminate leakage in production
    and delivery
  • Work with natural gas suppliers to increase availability of efficiency measures

While emissions from electricity use are falling, natural gas emissions are still rising. Shifting the mix is key to cutting overall emissions.

GOAL 5: Clean Energy Economic Development and Jobs

Accelerate and harness the economic benefits of energy efficiency, clean energy and clean mobility for the benefit of the residents and communities of Garfield County, and find ways to address any economic impacts of transitioning to clean energy.

Since 2009 GCE has offered programs that create measurable economic benefits. These benefits can be increased by ramping up programs to reach more households and businesses, focusing on local job creation and workforce training, and working with state partners to address any negative impacts resulting from energy transitions.

Strategies include:

  • Mobilize the funding, incentives and financing needed to implement the Energy
    Action Plan
  • Invest in education, training and capacity building; identify gaps in needed skills and workforce; work with state and other partners to fill gaps
  • Pursue policies and funding to help Garfield County address any fiscal or workforce impacts

Local governments receive significant revenue from the oil and gas industry – an example of the economic impacts that must be addressed.