Gov. Bill Ritter had good reason to take notice of the alternative-energy efforts of Rifle last week. Many communities have paid lip-service to alternative energy and sought state or federal grants for a few projects. But Rifle has gone further than most.
Working with the state, Garfield County and a variety of private or nonprofit interests, Rifle has initiated a multitude of programs to upgrade public facilities with alternative-energy sources and provide information to others who want to be greener.
It has even created an Energy Innovation Center to showcase such things as solar, biofuels, geothermal and other forms of alternative energy.
This from a community that, as much as any in the state, has been tied to traditional energy sources. It was devastated by the oil shale bust of the 1980s, has flourished and experienced downturns along with the natural gas industry. The land on which the Energy Innovation Center is being established is the former site of a uranium mill tailings pile.
Rifle hasn’t abandoned its ties to traditional energy sources. Gas and oil businesses and their workers are still mainstays of the local economy.
But Rifle deserves credit for recognizing that other forms of energy may supplement or supplant those in the future, and for seeking ways of making those energy sources more prominent in the community.