1A benefits entire community | AspenTimes.com

1A benefits entire community

Dear Editor:

We Aspenites pride ourselves on being a green community and to a certain extent we are. Consider the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, the Canary Initiative, the LEED-certified middle school, and the fact that the Aspen Electric Utility provides roughly 80 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable resources. In fact, Aspen and Pitkin County are far ahead of the national curve, but much remains to be done if we want to create a truly sustainability community. Fortunately, this November’s ballot presents us with a major opportunity. I’m referring to ballot item 1A, or the Energy Smart Loan Program.

Worldwide about a third of all energy is consumed by buildings for heating, cooling, lighting etc. Unfortunately, much of that energy is wasted due to inefficiency. Think of drafty windows, inadequate insulation, unsealed doors, or outdated heating equipment. Not only do those inefficiencies represent squandered energy and resources, but they also correlate to wasted cash. Maintaining an efficient home or building saves money, period. And who doesn’t want to save a little more? The problem is that it often takes a small investment upfront to save larger sums in the long term.

This initial capital cost has historically been one of the greatest barriers to implementing efficiency measures or renewable systems. The Energy Smart Loan Program would provide a solution to this problem by offering long-term, low-rate, fixed-interest loans to residents and commercial building owners. Better yet, the loan would be attached to the property rather than the owner, which reduces exposure to the owner should the property be put up for sale.

Financially, the Energy Smart Loan Program would benefit owners by reducing their energy costs and adding value to their property. Owners would also still be able to take advantage of federal tax credits, utility rebates and local incentives, which equate to even greater savings. The program would also benefit the community by supporting jobs right here in the Roaring Fork Valley! Solar installers, energy auditors, builders, plumbers, insulators and more will all see an increased workload. If you’re skeptical, check out the massive success of Boulder’s ClimateSmart Program or read Will Toor’s letter to the editor from Oct. 12.

One of the most important concepts to remember is that the Energy Smart Loan Program will only affect those who opt into it. That’s right – it is completely voluntary.

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Su Lum put it well recently, “Referendum 1A is a no-brainer, a definite YES. If passed, this referendum will offer low-cost loans to citizens seeking to upgrade energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements and equipment. No increase in taxes, no downsides. YES.”

For yourselves, for the environment, for the local economy – vote yes on 1A.

Nathan Ratledge

Woody Creek