Sun Biz: Renewable Energy January 25, 2009

Program encourages businesses to plug into solar energy and save

DAVID COX WITH Palisade Produce, 753 Main Street in Palisade, stands next to one of the 52 solar panels on the roof of the business.

Palisade Produce owner David Cox made the leap to renewable energy by installing 52 solar panels at his business.

He paid Palisade-based Ecofly Renewable Energies $75,000 for the endeavor.

“The solar rewards program made the decision really easy,” Cox said. He now stands to save about $1,500 a month just via the Xcel Energy rebates, according to his calculations.

That is before the federal tax credit.

“If people realized the likelihood of significant financial danger based on hyper-inflation of our dollar, it would bring people around to the recognition they must have some locally derived, sustainable fuel source,” Cox said.

The Governor’s Energy Office, Xcel Energy and Cumulus radio are coordinating for an event Wednesday at Two Rivers Convention Center, the Build Green Live Green Sustainability Forum and Renewable Energy Expo.

Fred Eggleston from Xcel Energy will speak in the first part of the day about what rebates are available to the public. Other speakers will talk about successfully implementing renewable energy resources.

About 40 businesses will be part of the expo and will have information about their services and about renewable energy.

“Chevron is helping Mesa State with their project,” said Kevin Wodlinger, a conference organizer from Cumulus. “These are big companies that are either retrofitting their existing buildings to improve their energy consumption or building new construction to do it.”

Wodlinger and Eggleston attended a similar event on the Front Range in 2008.

They thought Western Slope vendors would benefit from their own renewable energy conference.

Diane Schwenke, director of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said businesses are still in the early stages of recognizing the benefits of renewable energy.

“Solar is a fairly expensive proposition up front and a lot of our businesses aren’t making any sort of capital investments while they wait and see what happens with the economy,” Schwenke said.

However, no one expects the gas prices to stay as low as they are, she said.

Anthony Huff, manager of Ecofly Renewable Energies, said there’s an indirect link between the price of gasoline and jump-starting moves toward renewable energy.

“I think, ultimately, fuel prices are going to be high,” Huff said. “When prices are really high like last spring and summer, people start to think differently.”


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