Regional “Main Street” Program Saves Businesses $240,000 in Annual Energy Costs and Leverages $1.1 Million in Efficiency Investments
By CLEER and Colorado Energy News
A three-county program to spur economic development through energy efficiency and clean energy in small businesses has proven very successful, saving businesses in Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin Counties $240,000 in energy costs annually and leveraging investments of $1.1 million in energy-saving projects.
In 2011, the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) launched the “Main Street Efficiency Initiative”—a regional program implemented by Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE), and the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability (EVAS). During its year-long implementation, CLEER, CORE, and EVAS engaged 96 businesses to save energy through upgrades and retrofits in their buildings. Sixty-four of those buildings have completed the energy-saving upgrades—many additional projects are in the works.
Over 30 contractors from the building and energy efficiency trades were involved in the projects. “We are grateful for these local programs and the services they provide us and our customers,” said Ryan Grobler with FridgeTek, a manufacturer and distributor of refrigeration energy-saving devices. “The programs have helped us bring our energy-saving refrigeration products to local businesses, helping our customers become more profitable while generating more work for us.”
“This regional Main Street program had great results because it was such a collaborative effort between the state and regional nonprofits,” said Joani Matranga, GEO market development manager.
CLEER, CORE and EVAS focused on helping businesses in their respective counties (Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin). The Main Street Grant, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), put $250,000 to work to help small businesses save on energy costs through energy audits, providing rebates and technical assistance, and trainings.
The groups partnered in applying for the grant, and then collaborated throughout the year to maximize efforts in each county, including hosting trainings, and sharing strategy ideas and marketing efforts. The services offered by the three entities included energy coaching and advising (in which businesses are provided technical assistance and guided through energy audits and upgrades, and how to apply for rebates), case study development, the promotion of participating businesses in local media, and helping businesses secure utility rebates and rebates provided through the grant.
CLEER incorporated the Main Street program into its existing Garfield Clean Energy Challenge program while EVAS and CORE wrapped their program into their existing Energy Smart programs. Business owners are encouraged to contact one of these groups to participate in the ongoing programs.
“The Main Street program helped and encouraged small businesses across the region to invest $1.1 million in energy efficiency upgrades, which will bring these same businesses $240,000 in annual energy savings,” said Erica Sparhawk, Program Manager with CLEER and for the overall program.
“This is a real boost to our regional economy. We couldn’t have achieved this level of energy savings and economic benefits without our utility partners, which included Holy Cross Energy, City of Aspen Electric Utility, Glenwood Springs Electric Utility, Xcel Energy, and SourceGas. We’d also like to thank the Governor’s Energy Office for their vision in supporting this project.”