Guest column: Ramping up REMP | AspenTimes.com

Guest column: Ramping up REMP

Mona Newton
Guest Commentary

We appreciate the calls and emails from folks offering their ideas for energy efficiency in response to the recent Aspen Times article reporting on the growth of funds held in the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP).

We wanted to provide the public with history on REMP itself and some insight into how the funds are used. This groundbreaking program was adopted by the city of Aspen and Pitkin County in 1999 to disincentivize highly consumptive uses of energy. Homeowners and commercial property owners who wish to consume additional energy for snowmelt, outdoor pools, spas and houses larger than 5,000 square feet in Pitkin County have the option of installing a renewable energy system on site or making a mitigation payment in lieu to REMP. Those payments become the pool for rebates and grants distributed by CORE, with city and county oversight. The funds generated must be used to reduce carbon emissions within the Roaring Fork Valley and are restricted in that expenditures must offset two times the amount of carbon generated by the new development.

CORE, as the administrator of this fund, has been able to eliminate on average as much as 6 units of energy for each unit of energy paid for. To put that in context, in one year we helped eliminate emissions equivalent to taking 342 homes off the grid or sequestered carbon from 3,000 acres of forest.

Using the funds, CORE offers cash-back rebates to homeowners, renters and businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley. We also have a robust grant program that funds innovative work for local government agencies, nonprofits, schools and businesses — work that might not get done otherwise. The funds administered by CORE have been instrumental in various projects, such as putting solar panels on schools like Ross Montessori in Carbondale and government buildings like the Pitkin County Public Works. REMP funds also leverage investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. CORE encourages the use of local contractors to complete this work, strengthening the valley's economy. In 2016, $500,000 was invested in APCHA owned rental housing that resulted in a 17 percent gain in energy efficiency.

The City Council's and the county commissioners' strong support of our mission and programs enable us to increase our capacity and reduce even more carbon. Historically, 30 percent of the REMP balance has been used annually and as it increases we increase our program offerings. CORE is careful to use the funds thoughtfully as this fee is subject to the ebbs and flows of development. As more people respond to the incentive structure and choose to use renewable energy and reduce energy use on site, the money flowing into REMP will decrease. Until then we continue to seek projects and ideas that reduce carbon in a meaningful way.

Climate change is not far off into the future. We can smell it and see it all around us in the form of wildfires and drought. Everyone's involvement is needed to help the community reduce our carbon emissions. There are mountains of work to do, and we know that.

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Ultimately, CORE's mission is to help you save energy, and we've been working at it since 1994 by serving over 5,000 customers. Together we can advance our "CORE" values: clean air, stable climate, strong economy, healthy communities and sustainable energy.

Please contact us at http://www.aspen core.org, call 970-925-9775, or stop by one of our offices in Aspen or Carbondale to learn more and share ideas.

Mona Newton is the executive director of CORE.

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