Glenwood citizens to get incentive to go solar

For years, Glenwood Springs’ electric utility has been overshadowed by other area energy providers that, unlike the city, offer rebates for solar power installations.

Now that is expected to change, and Glenwood electric customers who want to install photovoltaic panels at a discounted cost should be aware that their opportunity to apply for a rebate is fast approaching.

It will be here so soon, in fact, that a news release announcing the rebates was issued Monday before the city had finalized the program, catching some city leaders off guard.

Heather McGregor, who handles communications for Clean Energy Economy for the Region, or CLEER, issued the announcement that limited-time rebates will be funded from a $45,000 grant from the Governor’s Energy Office and an equal match from the city’s electric department. CLEER spearheaded an effort that led to a partnership of local governments and nonprofits in Garfield County winning a $1.6 million New Energy Communities Initiative grant from Gov. Bill Ritter.

McGregor said the rebate program will, at least for a limited time, put Glenwood utility customers on an equal footing with neighboring utility customers of Holy Cross Energy and Xcel Energy who already benefit from solar power rebate programs.

“This will hopefully jump-start quite a bit of solar installations,” she said.

But Monday’s announcement surprised City Manager Jeff Hecksel, who said the city hadn’t realized it was being issued. He said the city is involved with the New Energy Communities Initiative, and a solar program is part of that.

“But what that means I don’t think has been defined in its entirety yet,” he said.

Mayor Bruce Christensen said nothing has been finalized as far as solar installation rebates, although he assumes the city will proceed with the program.

City Council members Shelley Kaup and Russ Arensman both said there’s conceptual support for the program and they expect the city to give it final approval. They said the rush to get a news release out probably reflects the rapidly approaching window for applying for rebates based on the state grant. The application period will run from Feb. 2 to March 20.

McGregor said she regrets the failure to inform enough people within the city before going public with the announcement.

“I suppose they could walk away from it, but I doubt they will. Everyone seems very enthused about this program,” she said.

For information about the program and the application process, visit http://www.cleanenergyeconomy.net or call 704-9200.


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