‘We are energy hogs in this country’ | VailDaily.com

‘We are energy hogs in this country’

Allen Best

Long before global warming began dominating newspapers, televisions, and magazines, utility director Dan McClendon was working on what he calls his three-legged stool.As executive director of Delta-Montrose Electric Association in western Colorado, he says he aims to provide reliable service at an acceptable cost. That has been the sole mission for many rural electrical cooperatives, but McClendon’s board of directors also wants to promote both renewable energy and efficient use of energy, he says.McClendon will be a co-chairman of the Blue-Ribbon Panel for the Colorado Climate Agenda.”We need to get over our short-term vision, and into a longer-term vision, at least in the energy sector,” he said.With three coal mines in his district, McClendon is careful not to take broad jabs at coal-burning electricity. And, as a practical matter, Colorado coal is among the nation’s cleanest burning, meaning it will likely continue to be needed.But he sees great gains ahead in alternative energy. In his service district, around the towns of Paonia, Delta and Montrose, there are several hundred “heat-exchange ground pumps” that draw on the heat of the earth. The pumps cost a little bit more money up front, but will save money in the long run, McClendon says. “The premium homes are now putting it in, particularly with cost of natural gas rising,” McClendon says. But McClendon also believes that much more must be done to reduce energy use. He recalls a trip this year to Taiwan, where he stayed at a Sheraton hotel that he describes as among the nicest places he has ever stayed. But it was very different, too. Turning on lights required keys and the lights shut off when the door was locked.”We are energy hogs in this country,” he says. McClendon also recalls the advice given to him by his father. “It’s not about how much (money) you make,” said his father. “It’s about how much you spend.”The same principle holds true in the energy sector, says McClendon. “In this country, it’s not about how much you use, but how much you generate,” he says. “We need to change that.”

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