Feb 152009
 
Authors: Matt Minich

Eric Sutherland, a long-outspoken advocate for efficient and renewable energy in Fort Collins, announced Friday he will join the city’s mayoral race, backing furthered environmental and economic responsibility in northern Colorado.

Sutherland said that while Fort Collins has presented itself as a green community, its environmental actions fall short, and in running for mayor, he will seek to change that.

“We’re just not walking the walk,” he said.

Sutherland said his primary motivation in seeking after the position of mayor is the opportunity to take a seat on the Platte River Power Authority Board of Directors, which is a municipally-owned company providing power to the cities of Fort Collins, Estes Park, Longmont and Loveland. Each city’s mayor sits on the board.

Sutherland said the PRPA isn’t making enough progress toward energy efficiency in its contracts, which, despite promises from Fort Collins city council for heightened energy responsibility, were not amended to include any new policies regarding renewable energy, he said.

Mayor Doug Hutchinson, who is running for re-election against Sutherland this year, said he feels the PRPA is making significant progress in energy efficiency.

/”The PRPA is diligently pursuing these issues,” Hutchinson said, citing its pioneering use of mercury scrubbers to reduce emissions in coal power plants and its multi-million dollar investments in wind power.

Sutherland said he believes sponsorship of wind power credits by many local businesses make “virtually no difference,” as, instead of funneling money from those credits into local wind farms, it instead funds out-of-city subsidies.

Should he be elected, Sutherland said one of his major focuses will be the implementation of a mass transit system that will allow Fort Collins residents to travel to Denver and surrounding cities without using personal automobiles, Greyhound buses, or shuttle services, which are the only options currently available.

And while he said he agrees local government has “done well” in the economic areas of job retention and attraction, he said economic stability “is a two-way street.” He said he believes Fort Collins’ healthy economy depends on keeping money within the community and invested in energy efficiency.

The CSU campus, Sutherland said, is vital in impacting the city’s environmental and economic health.

Sutherland announced his candidacy Friday and will have until Feb. 26 to file his nomination petition, which requires the signatures of 25 registered local voters, to officially be added to the ballot.

City Elections Beat Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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