This Earth Day, we give thanks to you

Earth Day is this Saturday. For us at Garfield Clean Energy, this is an opportunity to celebrate everyone who is doing their part to make our communities better through their energy choices. 

More than 1,500 Garfield County residents have made home energy upgrades – adding insulation, sealing windows, replacing old appliances with more efficient new ones, installing rooftop solar – through programs such as ReEnergize Garfield County.

If you’re one of those residents, thank you. You’ve helped keep over 3,600 tons of carbon emissions out of the air and you’re contributing to our county’s energy independence. What’s more, you’ve collectively saved yourselves $650,000 on energy costs and injected more than $7 million into the local economy.

We also want to give a shout-out to the 400-plus business owners who’ve used our coaching services to install efficient lighting, HVAC systems, motors, refrigerated cabinets and other energy-saving features. You’re reducing your energy consumption and carbon footprint by an even greater amount – and, by the way, you’re also enjoying an average 20% return on your investment.

Thanks, too, to all of you who have made personal choices to reduce your transportation emissions, whether by swapping your gas vehicle for an EV or by utilizing alternatives to driving such as taking the bus, biking, e-biking or walking.

GCE partners – this is your day, too. We’re grateful to your elected leaders for helping fund the rebates and outreach that make these programs succeed. We celebrate your staff whose work upgrading facilities and fleets is reducing emissions, saving taxpayers money and making public buildings more comfortable for users.

Also deserving of thanks are our colleagues at state agencies such as the Colorado Energy Office, who provide much of the funding to expand the network of electric vehicle charging stations. Thanks also to the dozens of local site owners who have installed 135 (and counting) public EV charging ports in Garfield County.

Finally, we want to recognize our utilities: Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and Black Hills Energy. You provide the lion’s share of energy-efficiency rebates and incentives in our region. We particularly want to thank Holy Cross, Xcel and our solar partners for leading the way in building a carbon-free electricity grid.

The clean energy transition is well under way, and the benefits are becoming more apparent with each passing year. As technology improves and scales up, the opportunities will only get better.

Everyone has a part to play in this transition. Indeed, it would be unfair if everyone didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of it. It’s gratifying to look back on these past 12 years since GCE’s founding and marvel at the broad coalition of people that have come together to make this positive vision a reality. Together, we’re leaving this place a little bit better than we found it.

Well done, us! 

That said, we’ll need to pick up the pace in the coming years. According to an internal analysis by Xcel consultants, we will have to ramp up our efforts in Garfield County by about sixfold between now and 2030 to achieve the energy-saving goals of our Energy Action Plan. It will take a lot more resources and collective will.

So this is not a time to rest on our laurels. But on Earth Day, we want to honor those of you who have brought us this far and have helped put us on a strong, hopeful path to a clean energy future. Thank you… and let’s keep up the good work!