Building Climate Resilience
- The County's Clean Energy Project
- Climate Action Planning
- Solar Resources and Funding
- Electric Vehicle Readiness
- Air Quality Monitoring and GHG Inventory
- Residential Commercial E-bike Rebates Incentives
Beneficial electrification (or strategic electrification) is a term for replacing direct fossil fuel use (e.g., propane, heating oil, gasoline) with electricity in a way that reduces overall emissions and energy costs. There are many opportunities across the residential and commercial sectors. This can include switching to an electric vehicle or an electric heating system – as long as the end-user and the environment both benefit.
San Miguel County clean energy projects supported through the Colorado Energy Office's Energy Performance Contracting program greatly improved energy efficiency and renewable energy resource utilization across multiple facilities. San Miguel County balances both energy efficiency and renewable energy generation through solar to optimize funding and maximize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.
"The climate crisis we’re experiencing threatens to degrade the quality of life for our residents━from our ranching and agricultural areas to our high alpine, ski and tourism economy,” said Mike Bordogna, County Manager at San Miguel County. “We knew we had to act now and change how we operate to protect our livelihoods and natural environment━changes that can serve as an example for other communities. Energy Performance Contracting helped us connect the dots.”
CEO’s Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) program enabled San Miguel County to evaluate its existing San Miguel Clean Energy Project (SMCEP), conduct a full investment-grade audit with Siemens Industry, Inc.━a CEO pre-qualified Energy Services Company (ESCO)━and plan for energy efficiency improvements across county facilities that are projected to result in utility bill and GHG emissions savings of 20-25%. San Miguel County leveraged CEO’s no-cost technical and contracting assistance to obtain low-interest financing and grants from the Renewable and Clean Energy Initiative, which is a set-aside from the Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund Grant (EIAF) program administered by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
“San Miguel County’s goal is to become carbon neutral, and it dedicates the staff and resources needed to deliver on this commitment,” said Dylan Klomhaus, Technical Specialist at CEO. “Even when facing the unprecedented budget impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Miguel County leveraged state programs offered through the Energy Office and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to help fund and move these important projects forward.”
An investment-grade audit identified propane and natural gas appliances that could be transitioned to electric appliances that run on solar energy, known as “beneficial electrification.” Facility improvements in county buildings that reduce energy usage include new LED lights, windows, HVAC controls, and building envelope performance enhancements. A designated SolSmart community, San Miguel County, also installed 264 kW of on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at key county facilities including the Historic County Courthouse, which is part of a National Historic Landmark District. Solar was also added to the Sheriff’s Office, a new annex in Norwood, and the jail facility. Additionally, battery systems totaling 190 kW and 580 kWh of storage capacity provide backup and resiliency to critical operations. The on-site solar PV and energy efficiency improvements provide:
The county engaged early and often with its community partners including local utility San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), the Sheriff's Office, Telluride Foundation, and EcoAction Partners. SMPA was also able to provide rebates that totaled ~$25,000 in savings.
“Local governments have a critical leadership role to play in helping meet the science-based greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals the state has adopted, both through policies they adopt and leading by example,” said Will Toor, CEO Executive Director. “It’s great to see such ambitious action from San Miguel County towards a future in which clean electricity powers our communities.”
San Miguel County Government Target and Planning
RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, COLORADO
- Reduce the County government’s GHG emissions to 26% of 2010 levels by 2025, 50% of 2010 levels by 2030, and 100% of 2010 levels by 2040.
- Continue to support the Sneffels Energy Board’s mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of valuable natural resources in the region through coordinated community engagement, project implementation, and policy change at both local and state levels and adopt the San Miguel and Ouray County Regional Climate Action Plan with the goal of a 50% reduction in our GHG emissions by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2050 with a 2010 GHG emissions baseline.
- Annual Review of the County’s GHG reduction targets and San Miguel and Ouray County Climate Action Plan by the Board of County Commissioners.
- Prioritize the following sectors to meet our GHG reduction targets: climate policy priorities, energy supply, building emissions, transportation, waste and material, food, water, land and air quality, and emergency response.
- Have an effective voice in the development of statewide energy and GHG reduction policies by continuing to partner with CC4CA, a coalition of local governments across the state that advocates for state and federal policies that support clean air, clean water, reduction of fossil fuel consumption and other contributors associated with GHG emission.
Colorado State Planning
HOUSE BILL 19-1261 Air pollution - statewide greenhouse gas pollution abatement - air quality control commission - rules - appropriation. Section 1 of the act states that Colorado shall have statewide goals to reduce 2025 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26%, 2030 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%, and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% of the levels of statewide greenhouse gas emissions that existed in 2005.
The State of Colorado Solar
The solar industry in Colorado is as bright as ever. Contractors are seeing backlogs of six or more months to install projects. This momentum is unlikely to slow down anytime soon with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and local governments taking on programs to support their aggressive climate and renewable energy goals. The IRA will extend the federal solar tax credit to 30% for the next 10 years, provide extensive funding for low-income solar projects, and finally allow non-profits (including local governments) to access the 30% solar credit as a rebate starting next year.
In 2022, the nonprofit group Solar United Neighbors (SUN) launched the Uncompahgre Solar Co-op with the Town of Mountain Village, San Miguel County, San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), Solar Energy International (SEI), and EcoAction Partners. The Uncompahgre Solar Co-op is designed to help area residents go solar.
Solar United Neighbors' collective impact as of today is that nearly 400 families have been able to install over 2.5 MW of rooftop solar in Colorado, investing $7.8 million into the local economy. This investment is projected to save $12.4 million over the lifetime of these systems. We are actively facilitating hundreds of thousands of dollars for solar equity rebates, expanding access to its benefits to all. Our work is estimated to have created 41 jobs, with a continued ripple effect for communities across the region.
“The co-op enables homeowners and business owners in both Mountain Village and San Miguel County to join the growing community of people saving money by harnessing solar power,” said Bryce Carter, Colorado Program Director for Solar United Neighbors. “Together, we’re building a movement to create a more sustainable electricity system that directly benefits households and small businesses in the community.”
The co-op is free to join and open to homeowners and business owners in Mountain Village and San Miguel County. Together, co-op members will learn about solar energy and leverage their numbers to purchase individual solar systems at a discounted group price.
Joining is not a commitment to purchase solar. Members will have the option to individually purchase panels and electric vehicle chargers based on the installer’s group rate.
After a competitive bidding process facilitated by SUN, co-op members will select a single solar company to complete the installations. SUN provides guidance on the process, but remains vendor-neutral, empowering the co-op members to decide.
Qualifying rebates will also be available on a limited basis for co-op members who are residents of Mountain Village and unincorporated San Miguel County.
Through the co-op, EcoAction Partners and SEI also provided educational outreach to the rural community.
San Miguel County contributed $5000 to three households for solar rebates in 2022. The Co-op will not be operating in 2023 but don't hesitate to get in touch with Tanner Simeon-Cox if you are interested in learning about Solar and rebates in 2024.
San Miguel CountyIn 2022 San Miguel County was awarded two grants through the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the Colorado Energy Office to develop a region-wide Electric Vehicle (EV) Readiness Plan for the San Miguel and Ouray Counties.
In 2023 San Miguel County will engage EcoAction Partners to develop a region-wide Electric Vehicle (EV) Readiness Plan for San Miguel and Ouray Counties. The Plan will focus on supporting the current and future adoption of EVs, including on-road personal and fleet vehicles and necessary EV infrastructure. A Western Colorado University (WCU) Masters of the Environment graduate student will be selected as the project lead with support from a regional EV task force, staff at Eco Action Partners, the Sneffels Energy Board, and San Miguel County. In addition, program support available through WCU’s master’s program will allow access to further resources to ensure that the Plan development will serve the region as they look to be EV ready.
If you would like to be involved in the EV task force, please contact Xander Critikos at firstname.lastname@example.org
State of Colorado
Action #1 in the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan: Build out Colorado’s EV fast-charging infrastructure through public-private partnerships and in coordination with other programs.
Developed in partnership with ChargePoint and site hosts, such as local governments, utilities and private companies, the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) fast-charging electric vehicle corridors project comprises high-speed charging stations to be installed at 34 locations across the state.
Air quality Monitoring
We have installed Purple Air Monitors at our Telluride Office and in the Town of Ophir. The results can be found on the Purple Air Real-Time Map.
If you have questions, please check out San Miguel County's Environmental Health page for contact information.
Green House Gas Inventory
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory & Action Plan
EcoAction Partners along with regional leaders track greenhouse gas emissions, set goals and coordinate actions. Please check out EcoAction Partners' website for more information.