Figuring out Glenwood’s footprint
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” An energy committee determined that Glenwood Springs produced about 7,337 tons of carbon dioxide last year, compared to 3,204 tons in 1990.
That was after committee members spent several months and hundreds of hours doing things like mining energy bills for data.
The city’s Energy Efficiency Ad Hoc Committee presented its Greenhouse Gas Inventory to the city council. It acknowledged that the 1990 figures were rough estimates based on energy spending records that could be found and average costs at the time. It also reported on natural gas and electricity spending and consumption from 2001 through 2006.
“This is the first time we’ve ever quantified carbon emissions for the city government,” said committee member Heather McGregor before the presentation.
The committee expects to deliver a climate action plan in March with more detailed suggestions to audit energy usage and increase efficiency. Committee members and city officials consider this inventory report a baseline or a reference point.
“Hopefully in 2008, 2009, 2010, we can say, ‘Here’s the progress we’re making,'” McGregor said.
The energy committee compared its 2006 data on the City of Glenwood to 2006 data for other cities, including Aspen. But it noted people should take direct comparisons with a grain of salt since there are many variables between cities.
Committee member George Wear said that the City of Aspen emitted about 1.2 tons of CO2 per capita compared to Glenwood’s .84 tons per capita. He noted Aspen had a slightly lower population, a larger budget, and provides different services. The figures showed Aspen’s government emitting over 7,600 tons of CO2 compared to Glenwood’s 7,337.
Wear said the most notable higher areas of consumption in Glenwood were the Community Center ” including the hot springs pool ” fuel costs and street lights.
“The pool is probably using 43 percent of the city’s natural gas consumption,” McGregor said.
Councilman and committee member Russ Arensman said he’s calculated that about $100,000 in energy costs per year coincide with the pool.
“It’s a huge energy user,” he said.
McGregor said, before the presentation, that a total figure for 2006 emissions is available, but not for some other years, in part because almost every streetlight in Glenwood had its own energy bill.
Measuring total power purchased in Glenwood Springs Municipal Electric’s service area, the committee found the rate of increase from year to year jumped up in 2004.
“The Meadows is going to be the big piece there,” Councilman Dave Merritt said.
Arensman noted the Community Center’s energy usage also jumped around that time.
But the committee said there are some great opportunities and technology that could cut energy usage and emissions, potentially saving money in the long run. The committee mentioned harnessing geothermal and solar energy, as well as purchasing more wind and hydroelectric power as ways to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.
Among the committee’s suggestions were: streamlining city record-keeping to track energy use better; getting the committee to report annually on the previous year’s usage and emissions, purchasing more power from renewable energy sources, having the city’s electric utility offer rebates for users’ renewable energy efforts and funding experts to conduct a comprehensive energy audit of city buildings.