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Rural Energy Center

Rural Energy Center

Rural Community Energy Assessments

Community Assessment

Rural communities in Colorado often have less efficient energy systems and pay more for energy than densely populated parts of the state. At the same time, funding and financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy (EERE) projects in rural Colorado abounds. Many rural communities have not taken advantage of EERE opportunities because they lack the resources to identify and implement appropriate projects. But rural Colorado communities that have implemented EERE projects have saved energy and money while stimulating economic activity.

To address this issue, the REC conducts subsidized energy assessments for rural Colorado communities of ~1k – 10k people. These community energy assessments (CEAs) are a “snapshot” of opportunities present now, as opposed to a long-term strategic plan for EERE. Each CEA includes:

  • A local energy stakeholder meeting to raise awareness of the assessment and to solicit input on community issues and priorities
  • LED lighting assessments for all public facilities and up to 6 small businesses
  • Solar energy assessments for select public facilities such as wastewater or water treatment plants
  • Alternative fuel vehicle fleet assessments for public fleets
  • In-depth data collection and analysis of EERE opportunities in the agricultural, commercial, public, and residential sectors of the community
  • A CEA report, with high-level results presented to the participating local government
  • Technical assistance to help implement “high priority” opportunities selected by the local government

Sample high priority opportunities identified in CEAs to date include: applying for grants to install EV charging stations; upgrading public facilities and small businesses to LED lighting with local utility rebates; educating residents on low-cost renewable energy options; applying for grants to convert select fleet vehicles to natural gas or liquid propane fuels; entering a lease for solar PV at a wastewater treatment plant; and more. Almost $60,000 in annual lighting and fuel savings was identified in our first four CEAs alone. Opportunities identified as high priorities will vary from community to community based on the data we collect and stakeholder input.

Click the sample report below to get a better sense of our work:

Note that a local government representative serves as the REC’s primary point of contact to identify stakeholders, provide energy bills and fleet information, and coordinate with town leadership to make decisions on CEA results. If you are interested in more information or in participating as a community, please contact us.

*The Colorado Energy Office, CSU Center for Collaborative Conservation, and CSU Extension have each provided funding for initial CEAs.

Updated Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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