Aspen should make changes to energy mitigation program |

Aspen should make changes to energy mitigation program

Aspen should make changes to energy mitigation program

Dear Editor:

Aspen and Pitkin County’s REMP (Renewable Energy Mitigation Program) was created as an innovative program nearly 15 years ago to mitigate excessive energy use for large homes and outdoor uses such as snowmelt and spas.

The program requires applicants to mitigate their environmental impacts by installing an approved renewable energy solution (solar PV, solar hot water or ground-source heat pump) or making a payment in lieu to the REMP program, which is used to fund other renewable energy projects. City of Aspen staff present that approximately 75 percent of applicants mitigate directly via approved solutions, with 25 percent electing the payment option. Since inception, the program has been very successful in raising more than $10 million in payments alone.

The solution REMP has been waiting for: In the past year, community-based solar has become a reality in our local area. While this innovative solution did not exist when REMP was formulated, REMP’s objectives can now be achieved more effectively than ever. We have asked for its inclusion as one of the allowed solutions.

Community-based solar meets REMP’s objectives better than any currently approved solution. It costs about the same as onsite solar PV, more than solar hot water and less than geothermal (all approved solutions), but that is where the similarities stop. Community-based solar provides far greater local environmental benefit than all currently approved mitigation solutions, at least 84 percent more to be exact, measured with actual performance, not estimated like the others.

The benefits:

• Clean energy delivered to the utility’s grid;

• Optimally situated for perfect sun capture;

• Cleaned, maintained and serviced panels generating maximum output; and

• 50-year contracts guaranteeing long-term environmental benefits, delivering the optimal environmental offset.

Despite the overwhelming facts of increased environmental benefits, as well as support from environmental, renewable energy and utility experts alike, city staff has proposed specifically excluding a superior environmental solution that would make REMP more effective than ever. In fact, the very environmental benefits REMP was designed to create are being ignored.

So what gives?

Why are they limiting the use of this innovative renewable energy source despite the City Council’s No. 1 goal for 2009 and 2010, the Aspen Area Community Plan goal No. 1 and No. 6, the Pitkin County Strategic Plan, and the creation of CORE and the Canary Initiative?

Are the building departments trying to protect their REMP fees at the expense of the environment? If so, build a fee portion into each mitigation, but do not exclude better environmental solutions.

We are asking the City Council to honor the intentions of REMP and our community’s environment by accepting community-based solar. Other communities, such as Snowmass Village and Telluride, have already made these mitigation decisions in support of community-based clean energy, with various states and the Department of Energy noting its many benefits.

Please let your opinions be heard. Come to today’s (Monday, April 11) council meeting, 5 p.m. at Aspen City Hall, call or e-mail the building department and city council. Learn more at

The environment will thank you.

Paul Spencer

Clean Energy Collective