Alliance Programs Updates: Stakeholders and Economics

Zach Owens : Tuesday July 16, 12:39PM

I’ve let a few months slip by without posting updates about what our Programs team has been up to. In short, we’ve been busy with events!

In May, we partnered with Boulder County, the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition (EEBC), and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to host the Colorado Energy Efficiency Summit. Over 60 participants from across Colorado came to network and discuss their current energy efficiency programs. In the afternoon, the Alliance facilitated a brainstorming session to determine how to fund and sustain energy efficiency programs across Colorado and whether or not we should take on a statewide platform for energy efficiency. The general consensus of the participants was that continued collaboration across the state for EE is needed, and participants have since agreed to research additional steps we can take to address issues like building codes, utility policy, engaging boards at local co-ops, marketing and outreach, developing a statewide platform for EE, developing statewide funding mechanisms for EE, and investigating the role carbon markets could play in CO. The Alliance plans to compile and disseminate the research being conducted and develop policy recommendations for EE in the 2014 legislative session.

In June, we hosted the 2013 Pueblo Regional Sustainability Roundtable in partnership with Pueblo County to discuss the future of energy and solid waste management in Pueblo. Over 40 attendees came to refine their understanding of Energy and Waste Management in Pueblo and to develop more creative solutions for implementation of the County’s energy and waste management goals in their sustainability plan.  I found it interesting that both the energy and waste management conversations highlighted the need for education, outreach and marketing about the topics; as well as developing the economic case for EE, RE and recycling in the county so that the programs could gain traction.

Last week, we went up to Fort Collins to help Michael Kirk run a Regional Energy Master Plan Consortium (REMPC) Advisory Council Meeting, where we discussed how to go about developing a Regional Energy Plan for Larimer and Weld Counties. The project’s vision has many challenges as the entire range of ideological energy views exist in Northern Colorado—from “drill baby drill” all the way to net zero. The advisory council seemed to agree that making the economic case for energy efficiency and renewables could be a common platform that unites all of the views and moves the energy plan forward.

I’m noticing a couple of trends based on all of the events I’ve been a part of recently:

  • Stakeholder engagement and ongoing communications is paramount to moving energy efficiency and renewable energy programming forward. Agencies, organizations and frankly people want to feel involved from the get go so they feel a sense of ownership to the processes and programs that are developed. Stakeholder engagement is also one of the most time-consuming aspects of these projects—it takes time to build relationships, consistently communicate, and get on the same page.
  • If we want to gain traction with EE and RE, it all comes back to the economics. We heard this in Routt County earlier this year, too. People want to see how much money EE and RE will save them, and therefore we’ve got to get smarter and more strategic about researching the economics of each program and project we consider.

Author Bio:

Zach is the Programs Coordinator at the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. He expands the statewide sustainability network, manages the Colorado Sustainability Collaborative Program, and organizes regional and statewide Sustainability Roundtables. He is passionate about interdisciplinary approaches to community, regional, and statewide sustainability initiatives. Zach graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from Regis University in 2009. While at Regis, he served as the first Director of Sustainability in student government, where he helped establish bus pass, recycling, and community garden programs on campus. Zach also spent three years working with the Greenpeace Student Network and served as a Days of Action Coordinator on the first Greenpeace Student Board. As a board member, he assisted students at universities across the country with organizing environmental awareness campaigns and events on their campuses. Zach practices and teaches yoga and dabbles with abstract painting in his spare time.

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