Just a handful of upgrades could add up to more than $1,000 in cash for local homeowners; Breckenridge historic properties could also benefit from state grants
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Homeowners who make just a handful of upgrades to boost the energy efficiency of their houses and appliances could quality for more than $1,000 in cash rebates, said Jon Kinstad of the High Country Conservation Center.
Local businesses can also benefit, with training grants to fund local businesses and non-profits that provide residential energy efficiency services. Grant dollars would help the organizations expand their work and aid with new employee training costs.
Kinstad said the High Country Conservation Center plans to apply for some of that grant money. More details on specific programs after the break.
Owners of historic buildings in Breckenridge may also qualify for help with making their structures more energy efficient.
The rebates and training grants are just part of slate of new green opportunities funded with $145 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The outreach push will come at the end of March when the Governor’s Energy Office will unveil a new web site.
“It’ll be one-stop shopping,” Kinstad said, explaining that the web site will feature consumer-oriented information to help explain the rebate program. The process should be fairly straightforward. Home and business owners shouldn’t be intimidated by the prospect of having to deal with government paperwork, Kinstad added.
Initial schedules and descriptions of the upcoming grants are available at the GEO’s website. A window on the home page links to the latest information on grant opportunities, which start in January and continue into the summer. Those interested in closely following the rollout of grant opportunities should check the GEO website and sign up for the GEO’s e-newsletter.
Grants will be provided in more than two dozen categories, including for wind power at schools, for geothermal energy development, for converting private and public fueling stations to include compressed natural gas and to install renewable energy or energy-saving equipment on historic properties.
“The Recovery Act provides a lot of ways for Coloradans to save money and cut energy use,” said GEO director Tom Plant. “We know Coloradans are eager to show the state’s leadership when it comes to saving energy, cutting pollution and improving the country’s energy independence. These new opportunities will help us set the pace.”
The initial set of grant opportunities now posted includes six requests for applications in the following categories (the total dollar amount available in each category follows in parentheses):
-Energy efficiency in historic buildings ($150,000): This grant provides funding for efficiency and renewable energy projects on historic building sites.
-New Energy Economic Development (NEED) grants ($3 million): These grants provide funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in commercial and industrial settings, as well as for supporting various programs promoting new energy work in residential settings.
-LEED for existing buildings certification grant ($115,000): This grant supports efforts by state colleges and universities to create green building certification programs for students.
-Energy efficiency expansion and training grants ($250,000): This grant provides funding to local businesses and non-profits that provide residential energy efficiency services. Grant dollars would help the organizations expand their work and aid with new employee training costs.
-Innovation funding for energy efficiency grants ($150,000): This grant is intended to provide funding to local businesses to assist with the costs of bringing new residential energy efficiency products or services to market.
-Compressed natural gas (CNG) for vehicle fuel infrastructure (approx. $1 million): This grant will provide funding for the retrofit of existing private fleet yards or public retail stations to include compressed natural gas in their fuel selection. The grant offers up to $675,000 for the city of Rifle and surrounding area and $288,000 for areas outside the Rifle region.
The GEO plans on holding a webinar for each grant solicitation approximately one week after the official posting date. The webinars will provide a critical opportunity for interested parties to ask questions about each grant, though GEO personnel will be unable to comment on specific project proposals. More information about the webinars is available on the GEO website.
Beginning in the spring, the GEO will also be offering numerous rebates to help Coloradans eager to cut their utility bills. The GEO will offer many ways for people to participate, including rebates for home appliances, solar power and energy audits of homes and businesses. More information on rebate programs will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.