Letter: Alternative to taxing for clean energy

As business owners in Carbondale who have made a substantial investment in a first-of-its-kind renewable-energy system for our building at 150 Main St., we feel our experience in building and driving energy-efficient and sustainable commercial investment in downtown is relevant to the conversation related to ballot issue 2A.

A quick look at Marble Distilling Co.’s water and energy thermal system:

• It saves more than 4 million gallons of water annually.

• It recaptures 1.8 billion British thermal units of energy annually — enough to heat 20 homes (all reused on-site at the facility).

• It saves 14,500 pounds of carbon annually.

• Additionally, with 4.85 kilowatts of photovoltaics on the roof and all stillage being recycled within 2 miles, Marble Distilling Co. has a substantially reduced carbon footprint compared with similarly sized manufacturing facilities, not to mention general commercial buildings.

Marble Distilling Co. is proud to do its part to address climate change and chose Carbondale as a location to build our business because we believe the community is like-minded toward this focus. That being said, we believe it is the individual stakeholders’ responsibility, not government’s, to take action as residents and business owners. Rather than adding another tax, it is our belief that incentivizing investment in clean energy would better serve the town and drive commercial investment and residential action. Overtaxing burdens homeowners and deters commercial investment, two things Carbondale does not need to promote. Incentivizing clean-energy initiatives spurs constructing more efficient homes and buildings.

Similar to the extremely successful Renewable Energy Mitigation Program developed by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency in 2000, Carbondale could implement an exceptional program that partners with the community to drive clean energy rather than overgoverning and overtaxing to enforce it. Empowering residents and commercial investors to mitigate their environmental impacts or pay a fee for noncompliance is more desirable than carbon-taxing all. The Renewable Energy Mitigation Program has raised more than $12 million for clean-energy initiatives and has not deterred residential or commercial building or investment; rather, it has improved the quality of construction.

Many Carbondalians dedicated to addressing climate change have already invested in solar, geothermal, wind power, etc., either on-premises or through programs offered by Holy Cross and Excel Energy. Why additionally tax them, which may diminish incentive to continue with existing programs or deter future energy-efficient upgrades? Let Carbondalians have a voice in how they choose to address climate change in their homes and businesses, and if they choose not to make changes, they can pay a mitigation fee dedicated to the clean-energy initiatives the town has proposed.

Carey Shanks and Connie Baker

Marble Distilling Co.