Snowmass institutes energy offset program |

Snowmass institutes energy offset program

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

SNOWMASS VLLAGE ” At a break in the Snowmass Town Council meeting Monday, Councilwoman Sally Sparhawk clapped her hands excitedly.

She was celebrating after Ordinance 11, which includes a renewable energy offset program (REOP), passed unanimously on second reading.

Sparhawk, who introduced the ordinance, said it took 14 months to pass. According to economic resource director Jason Haber, the legislation has been discussed at six council meetings and eight other public meetings.

“I just am really pleased that we’ve passed this ordinance,” Sparhawk said. “I think it’s a significant moment for Snowmass Village.”

The offset program addresses two main issues ” energy efficiency in home construction and mitigation for exterior energy use (such as a snowmelt system). Like the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, to which Aspen and Pitkin County belong, the program would require high energy efficiency standards for construction ” but allow homeowners who cannot or will not meet them to pay an in-lieu fee.

The ordinance establishes energy efficiency standards for new residential construction and additions greater than 1,000 square feet. Residences which do not meet the standards will pay fees between $3 and $5 per square foot, depending on the home’s size.

Commercial projects must exceed the Town’s Energy Conservation Code by at least 30 percent ” or pay $8 a square foot.

In addition, any project with outdoor pools, hot tubs, snowmelt systems or heated garages must mitigate with renewable energy on site or pay a fee. Fees will be paid per square foot and are based on the amount of energy the particular exterior feature is said to use.

The first 200 feet of any snowmelt system will be exempt (or 50 feet per unit for multi-unit dwellings), as will any sections in which the slope exceeds 8 percent. For all other sections, homeowners must mitigate for 50 percent of annual energy use ” or pay $34 per square foot.

To answer the council’s request for evidence that snowmelt driveways really do use more energy than plowing, Haber turned to Rick Heede of Climate mitigation Services and Jeff Dickinson of Biospaces, Inc. between the first and second reading of the ordinance. They noted that a preliminary analysis concludes that snowmelting generates somewhere between 5 and 40 times more carbon dioxide than snowplowing.

The first 64 square feet of a spa will be exempt, after which an owner will pay $176 per square foot ” or mitigate 50 percent of the energy needed. For pools, homeowners will pay $136 per square foot ” or mitigate 50 percent of the energy needed. For heated garages, homeowners will pay $8 per square foot ” or mitigate 50 percent of the energy needed.

Residents and business owners will be able to apply to the Town Council for exemptions from the ordinance, based on community benefit or public safety.

Originally the ordinance also allowed for exemptions based on hardship, but Haber worried that too many people would try to apply for exemptions based on hardship, and Council decided to strike that phrase Monday night.

Fees will be placed into a REOP account and will be used to pay for renewable energy projects in Snowmass. The ordinance also allows for the possibility of Snowmass collaborating with another municipality on a project.

Snowmass staff intend to start drafting a plan for expending REOP funds soon, according to a memo written by Haber. At present, they are proposing a bi-annual application and funding process. They are also suggesting that Snowmass Village residents, homeowners, businesses, builders, developers, public agencies, special districts and non-profits be eligible to apply for the funds.

Previous iterations of the ordinance have suggested it become effective Jan. 1, 2009. However, the version passed Monday night has an effective date of Nov. 1, 2008.

The ordinance will be subject to review one year after it is implemented.

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