Small Companies Can Get Big Bucks for Energy Projects

The Greenback$ program, an effort of local chambers, governments and utilities to assist small businesses in curbing energy overhead costs, has announced a new incentive for area businesses.  Companies throughout the Grand Valley can potentially receive a rebate of up to $1,000 for projects of $2,000 or more that curtail energy usage

            Companies will have to have completed an energy audit (which may also be cost free to them) and have identifiable energy saving projects completed.  Such projects can include installation of more energy efficient lighting and windows, door replacements, installation of solar panels, etc.  Funding is limited to the first 28 companies who apply and are approved for the improvements.  The funding is available as a result of a grant from the Governor’s Energy Office to Mesa County.

            “We spent less than $4,000 last year on lighting upgrades and motion sensors in our building,” noted Diane Schwenke, CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber.  “Within eighteen months we will have recovered that initial investment and will continue to save on our Xcel bill.”  That payoff may come even sooner as Schwenke observed, “Last month’s bill was $500 less than the bill we had for the same month in 2010.  That makes a real difference in our operations.”

            For more information on the Greenback$ program small businesses are urged to visit the Greenback$ website, or call the Chamber, 970.242.3214.






TUESDAY, NOV. 30, 2010

Myung Oak Kim, Governor’s Office, 303.947.5708,

Jerilynn Martinez, CHFA, 303.297.7427,

Loans target energy initiatives, expected to help more than 160 Colorado businesses

Gov. Bill Ritter, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) announced two new programs today that will finance energy-efficiency improvements in commercial buildings and renewable energy businesses in Colorado.

“These new loan programs answer a significant need expressed by Colorado businesses of all sizes – access to capital,” Gov. Ritter said. “We are helping Colorado companies sustain operations during the economic downturn, improve energy efficiency and thrive in the New Energy Economy. Most importantly, these loans will help businesses create jobs.”

The first program, the Green Colorado Credit Reserve (Green CCR), builds on the Colorado Credit Reserve program (CCR), which was revived by Gov. Ritter and the state legislature in 2009 to increase small businesses’ access to capital. Green CCR will allow businesses to finance up to $100,000 in energy efficiency retrofits within their office or manufacturing facility. Participating lenders will receive a 15 percent loan loss reserve contribution for every loan registered in the program to encourage private sector lending and generate cost savings for businesses.

To date, the original CCR program has helped 171 Colorado businesses, and leveraged nearly $6 million in private-sector lending. Based on the performance of the original CCR program, Green CCR is projected to serve over 160 businesses and generate $7 million in new lending. The program will be administered by CHFA and use $1 million in DOE funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund loan loss reserve contributions.

The second program is the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) Revolving Loan Program, which is designed to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Colorado. It is supported by GEO’s State Energy Program, funded by the Recovery Act. CHFA has contracted with GEO to administer approximately $13 million for this program.

“Colorado is serving as an engine for the clean energy economy and a laboratory of innovation,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Recovery Act funding is helping to put in place innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that are creating jobs in Northern Colorado and throughout the state while reducing carbon pollution and helping to shift how America uses energy.”

“CHFA is very pleased to be partnering with GEO and Governor Ritter on these exciting new programs,” said Cris White, CHFA’s CEO and Executive Director. “We look forward to getting these resources into the hands of business owners who can use them to help bring jobs and investment into Colorado.”

Bach Composite Colorado Inc. of Fort Lupton is the first business to benefit from the GEO Revolving Loan Program. Bach will use its $3.258 million loan to support its manufacturing facility and to create jobs. The Fort Lupton facility produces components for Vestas, a wind turbine manufacturer with production plants in Brighton and Pueblo. The loan is supporting the retention and hiring of 150 employees.

“This loan is critical to helping us maintain our cash flow, keep our employees on the payroll and to expand,” said Sabrina McLaughlin, Financial Controller at Bach. “I want to thank Gov. Ritter, his Energy Office, CHFA and the U.S. Department of Energy for stepping up to help us when we really needed assistance.”

Loans made under the GEO Direct Lending Revolving Loan Fund will be in excess of $100,000 and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Large-scale retrofits of buildings, ranging from commercial, multifamily, nonprofit, industrial and other applications;
  • Companies whose products directly impact the renewable energy sector from an economic development basis; or
  • Other unique opportunities to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Library's green team conserves resources

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Turned-off but plugged-in appliances suck up more energy than you might think.

Now, along with books and other items, patrons can borrow from the Mesa County Public Library power-check meters — instruments that monitors watt usage of home appliances.

“Toasters are terrible. You should always unplug your toaster,” said Nancy MacDonald, library executive assistant.

The availability of power-check meters is part of an overall library strategy to be good stewards of not only taxpayer dollars, but also the earth's natural resources.

“Every public library is about recycling things. We buy one book; 10 people get to read it,” said library director Eve Tallman.

Two years ago Tallman formed a library green team to implement “green” measures that reflected the library's values statement pledging efficiency and thoughtful use of resources throughout the library.

Good stewardship became the underlying theme of everything we do, MacDonald said.

“We are a large business with lots of employees. If we don't do it, who does?” Tallman asked.

“There are great creative minds on the library staff constantly looking for ways to save.”

For example, downstairs in the public computers area, printers have changed to two-sided printing by default. And while printing used to be free, patrons are now asked to pay 10 cents per page, which cuts down on excessive, unnecessary printing.

Both public and staff computers are powered down at night to eliminate “phantom loads” (electricity consumed when a device is turned off), MacDonald said.

In the break room, paper plates and cups have given way to dishes from home. Cloth napkins are used at board meetings.

“One thing that we've aced is recycling,” MacDonald said. “Curbside Recycling comes every other week.

“For me, our next big push is just reducing the amount of paper we use, reducing the amount of everything.” Library

Although the library recycles its junk mail, MacDonald and a volunteer are working on reducing what's delivered in the first place by writing back to senders and requesting to be taken off lists. Some of the unwanted mail is addressed to former staff members.

Recycling bins for staff and public have been placed inside the library.

Floor mats are made from recycled materials.

Rooftop solar tubes lets in natural lighting at Fruita's new library.

Used books are recycled at the Friends of the Library in-house bookstore.

To elicit staff ideas for making the workplace greener, a “Going Green at our Library” contest was held this summer. There were 20 submissions.

“Eve won, that rascal,” MacDonald laughed.

Tallman's idea was to switch to “green,” nontoxic cleaning supplies.

“We contacted our suppliers and said ‘this is what we want,'” MacDonald said.

“It helps with people's allergies. We don't need all those toxic things in the environment, for the public and the staff.”

Mentors also shared tips with the library green team — Kathy Portner who leads Grand Junction's green team, and David Miller of Alpine Bank — another entity with a strong green initiative.

Changes have extended to the outdoors as well. Low-water use landscaping was planted in front of the library.

A once barren lot west of the library is now a vegetable-laden community garden — a joint project between the library (who owns the land), the city, and the Colorado State University extension office. The $50 per plot fee covered irrigation water, roto-tilling, and some Mesa Magic compost.

Earlier this year MacDonald and a coworker shared with other Western Slope librarians a Powerpoint presentation, “Going Green at your Library.”

Handouts with recipes of homemade cleaners sparked some interesting conversations, like: “Oh, my mom used to do these things,” MacDonald said.

“It was a lot of fun to share what we're doing.”


Unveiling a new initiative geared toward helping small businesses save money

A coalition of local entities including all three local Chambers of Commerce, Xcel, Grand Valley Power, the City of Grand Junction and Mesa County will be unveiling a new initiative geared toward helping small businesses save money through reduced energy consumption on Tuesday, September 7th, 10:00 AM at KAFM Radio, 1310 Ute Avenue.

There will be a short program featuring Program Chairman Lynne Sorlye, Clarion Inn General Manager and Grand Junction Chamber board member, along with small business representatives.  This will take place outside near the KAFM solar panels.  In the radio room the new Greenback$ website ( will be on display.  This website will help connect small businesses with tools and resources that can help guide them through a self directed program of evaluating energy costs and exploring ways to use less energy that can save them money.

You are invited to attend this event to learn more about the program, what it is, how it was developed, what it hopes to do and how businesses and individuals can get involved. 


Power Check Power Meters available at Mesa County Libraries

Watt’s Watt with Xcel Energy, the City of Grand Junction and Mesa County Libraries

Find out watt’s watt and save. Check out the meter. Check out your energy use. Check out the savings. Power Check Power Meters are now available at Mesa County Libraries. These Xcel Energy kits will help identify household operating costs of various appliances and 
help identify high-energy-use appliances.

Power Check is an energy efficiency and education program provided by Xcel Energy and your public library to put you "in the know." With a library card, they can be checked out for two weeks like other library items.

These kits are made available through the library by GJ CORE (Conserving Our Resources Efficiently), the City of Grand Junction’s green team. The purpose of GJ CORE is to promote and monitor waste reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, alternative transportation, and pollution reduction and prevention in all City operations. As a part of our Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Strategy, we identified a community outreach program that included a watt-meter check-out program as a priority. GJ CORE made a request to Xcel Energy to provide watt-meters to Mesa County Libraries.

For more information about the Power Check kits, visit For more information about checking out a kit, visit or call your local Mesa County Libraries location, 970-243-4442.