Saguache Alliance for Green Energy (SAGE)
The Saguache Alliance for Green Energy (SAGE) held a very informative and well attended Saguache Energy Workshop in Janurary 2011. This free event featured presenters from the Governor’s Energy Office on the ‘Smart Energy Living Pyramid’ that focuses on renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation. Other speakers represented commercial, residential, government/schools and agricultural sectors. Residents from around the county came for presentations, access to resources and answers to questions from Veteran’s Green Jobs, Xcel Energy, the Governor’s Energy Office, ScSEED and more. The GEO gave a special web tutorial session at the Saguache County Public Library on how to access and navigate the GEO website for rebates, credits and more.
ScSEED has received a Governor's Energy Office (GEO) Community Marketing Grant to support the work of SAGE and provide residential outreach and education of GEO programs. SAGE will provide opportunities for community members to learn more about the GEO’s Recharge Colorado initiative at a "hands-on" training session at the Library in Saguache - check back for more details coming soon.
Saguache Hosts CFL Event – SAGE members went door to door, visiting a total of eighty-five (85) homes in the Town of Saguache on July 20th and distributed FREE compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) to approximately sixty-one (61) households. Those not at home were directed to pick one up at Town Hall. SAGE handed out thirteen (13) Low Income Weatherization applications. In addition, SAGE members conducted twelve (12) energy surveys and left another 42 surveys for residents to turn in at the Town Hall. SAGE also gave out a lot of energy conservation information.
Saguache Energy Survey Results - click here to see the results of the Energy Survey conducted in Saguache.
Mission Statement: to implement a strategic energy plan for the Town of Saguache, to serve as a model for the County and other San Luis Valley communities, by engaging town residents, public entities, and local businesses to pursue energy efficient and renewable energy measures, ultimately leading to a prosperous, productive, sustainable community.
Roots: SAGE was formed during the planning process for the SDRP, after energy efficient and renewable energy goals and objectives began to unfold. Goal # 3 of the
SDRP Action Plan reads: - Create a model and mechanism to incorporate sustainability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy into the revitalization of Saguache. In addition the following objective was established: Provide energy programs that focus on 4th Street and are expandable to other areas in Saguache. As a result of the SDRP planning process the Town of Saguacheʼs Planning Commission established SAGE, formally know as the Saguache Ad Hoc Solar Committee, to pursue these goals and develop objectives specifically related to alternative energy options for Saguache. In partnership with ScSEED, an Americorps Vista, Devon Pollack, was hired to act as Alternative Energy Coordinator for this project.
SEAP: The Saguache Energy Action Plan (SEAP)
SAGE received funding from the County Commissioners through a County Sales Tax Grant to develop SEAP; a community-based energy initiative, focusing on energy efficiency measures, local economic development opportunities and renewable energy. SEAP will work with town residents, business leaders, elected officials, utility providers, energy developers and state and federal agencies to implement a strategic plan. The SEAP will act as a model for communities throughout Saguache County.
The purpose of the Saguache Energy Action Plan (SEAP) is to create a community where energy is generated and used in the most sustainable manner possible. The SEAP seeks to identify the ways and means to implement the energy and renewable goals of the Townʼs adopted. This plan establishes the starting point (“Baseline”) from which the town and county can begin to implement energy saving targets to reduce overall energy consumption. SAGE hired Colorado Harvesting Energy Network (CHEN) to develop SEAP with the assistance and guidance of SAGE members. Click here to read the Trustee Approved SEAP.
Energy Audits and Energy Performance Contracting
In an effort to develop and implement SEAP, SAGE plans to have energy audits in all Town Buildings. In march 2010, SAGE hired Crestone auditor, Jason Anderson to audit the Saguache Community Building. Results of the audit indicate the building is extremely inefficient. SAGE hopes to improve matters by developing an energy efficient project for the Community Building this Summer.
SAGE is holding off with energy audits for the other Town Buildings in the hopes that the Town will implement a Energy Performance Contract ( EPC) for Town Buildings which would include energy audits. The Energy Performance Contracting program is provided by the Governorʼs Energy Office. EPC allows public agencies to invest in energy efficient measures without any capital. EPC works with Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) to create a financing plan based on the agencies current energy budget. The ESCO guarantees a percentage of savings which is then used to pay the contract off, usually about a fifteen year plan. If the guaranteed savings are not met the ESCO cuts the agency a check at the end of the year. Thorough energy audits are included in all EPCs. After the audits are conducted the ESCO establishes a working plan of energy improvements, savings, and payments with the agency.
SAGE is committed to inform the local public entities about EPC. On January 15 SAGE hosted a special public meeting with EPC Coordinator, John Canfield to deliver a presentation on EPC. Since then Saguache County Commissioners, Saguache Town Trustees, and Mountain Valley School Board have all signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Colorado Energy Performance Contracting Program; this is the first step for initiating the program. SAGE plans to give more presentations on EPC to other public entities throughout the county this year.
Saguache Energy Workshop
On January 16, 2010 SAGE hosted the first annual Saguache Energy Workshop. Over eighty-eight community members attended the event to receive information on energy efficient and renewable energy programs available. The event was sponsored by the GEO, ScSEED, Town of Saguache, SLVREC, and CHEN. Representatives from the GEO, Veterans Green Jobs, SLVREC, Xcel Energy, Peak Solar Designs, Eco Depot USA, Stone Solar, and Agua Solar distributed information to the public about their programs and services.
Two keynote presentations were made. The first was Veterans Green Jobs(VGJ)about the GEO Low-Income Weatherization Program they are administering in the SLV. VGJ San Luis Valley Weatherization Executive Director, Tamar Ellentuck led the presentation with the assistance of Outreach Coordinator, Adam Lauer and Weatherization Specialist, Mike Flaherty. Collectively they gave a detailed overview of the program and emphasized the importance of energy efficient measures for both its positive financial and environmental impacts.
Following the Weatherization presentation, Jason Anderson took the podium to talk about energy auditing. Jason Anderson, new to the profession received a scholarship for energy auditing training and equipment through a grant funded by the Saguache County Commissioners. Jason began his presentation by recognizing the County for their generous contribution to his career as well as their dedication to make this service available to county residents. Before Mr. Anderson received the grant, there were no energy auditors within Saguache County. Jason showed some of his high tech toys, including an I.R. camera and a blower door testing kit used to determine the volume of leaks in a building. Anderson also emphasized that investing in energy efficient improvements is the best way to save money and reduce greenhouse emissions. An energy audit can help you determine what EE investments will result in the most savings.
SAGE hosted a second Energy Workshop in January 2011.
Other Outreach Activities
SAGE is planning to provide community education and outreach activities for a variety of energy related topics. The first activity planned is to conduct a residential survey within the Town of Saguache to determine the communities knowledge and desires on energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. The questionnaire will be accompanied with a fact sheet informing participants about the GEO Low-Income Weatherization Program, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs, Solar Gardens, and Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Systems. The committee plans to launch the survey at the Memorial Day Picnic/Parade on May 29, 2010. If results from the survey indicate a strong interest in green energy options, SAGE will seek funds to develop a matching funds program to provide financial incentives for residents to pursue EE and RE measures in their homes and businesses
SAGE has formed a partnership with Veterans Green Jobs (VGJ) and is assisting with Low-Income Weatherization outreach activities. VGJ will share a booth with SAGE and other ScSEED representatives at the Memorial Day Picnic/Parade on May 29, 2010. Representatives from VGJ will provide applications for the program onsite and assist qualified residents complete the form. They will also provide energy conservation tips and free Weatherization techniques. SAGE will work with VGJ to execute another outreach activity in July 2010. During this event SAGE and VGJ will provide one free Weatherization service to Town homes (i.e tightening pipes). In addition, SAGE will seek funds to put on similar Weatherization events in the community.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)
Property Assed Clean Energy (PACE) is a topic that reaches most SAGE meetings. SAGE members are discussing ways they can facilitate the process to implement a PACE program in the SLV. SAGE is likely to engage in outreach activities for citizens, County Commissioners, and other public entities to learn the benefits associated with PACE programs.
PACE is a national financing program for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures for residential and commercial buildings. The program is voluntary! Residents and business owners opt in as desired. PACE is a bond initiative program. Communities wishing to set up a PACE program must succeed in placing and passing a resolution on the county ballot. Once it passes, the county sets up a land-secured financing district to sell bonds and use proceeds to make PACE loans. Property owners voluntarily signup for financing to install energy projects. Up to the full upfront cost of improvements is loaned. Property owners repay bond through property tax bill (up to 20 years)- This is not a tax! The loan becomes attached to the property and repaid via the property tax. If a homeowner sells a home the repayment transfers to the new owner. The interest rate varies with programs, but is generally a fixed low rate. (Boulderʼs Climate Smart Program operates around a 6% IR.) PACE can help meet clean energy and climate goals, save residents money on utilities, and promote local jobs! PACE is tax neutral.
SAGE members meet to discuss the status of SEAP, plan out future outreach activities, brainstorm ideas for potential financing programs, and discuss long-term goals and objectives of the committee. Meeting generally take place in the Saguache BLM/Forrest Service Conference Room and are open to the public.