Energy-saving grant program to be extended

Greenback$ helps businesses cut down on their power bills

A program that provides matching grants to help local small businesses make energy-saving improvements will be extended through the end of February.

The Greenback$ program was scheduled to end at the close of 2011, but it received a two-month extension thanks to a grant from the Governor’s Energy Office. That extension will help fund up to 12, $1,000 matching grants to reimburse small businesses that undertake energy-efficiency projects before Feb. 28, according to Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Schwenke.

The chambers in Grand Junction, Palisade and Fruita teamed with local utility providers and local government entities to administer the program.

Forty-two local businesses participated in the program this year. Seventeen of those businesses received a $1,000 matching grant to make energy-efficiency changes in the workplace.

Some simply crossed a few items off a checklist of energy-saving steps for businesses. Others got a grant to pay for an audit that determined how the business could become more energy-efficient. Xcel Energy pays for 80 percent of that audit for its customers, so Greenback$ usually covered the remaining cost of $200 to $300 for each audit, Schwenke said.

Grand Valley Power is a partner in the program and a participant. The company’s energy-services administrator, Derek Elder, said Grand Valley Power moved into a new, energy-efficient building in February to save money and “walk the talk” it had preached as a utility provider about energy conservation and utilizing renewable energy.

The Grand Valley Power building at 845 22 Road has a geothermal heating and cooling system, a solar array, energy-efficient lighting and recycled linoleum flooring. The company put recycling bins around the building and got rid of disposable plates or utensils, among other measures, to cross off items on the third and highest Greenback$ checklist of energy-saving measures.

“We wanted to lead by example and provide cost-savings to our customers through an example,” Elder said.

Schwenke said she hopes the grant extension will give the program more time to get the word out about Greenback$ and entice more businesses to participate. Anyone interested in participating in the program can call the Grand Junction Chamber at 242-3214.

The program may not end in February if other grant sources can be obtained, Schwenke said.

“We hope to continue to grow the program with other funding efforts,” she said.


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