Fort Collins politicians, students and community members crowded around informative posters and displays in the Lincoln Center in Old Town Monday, giving a venue for community input to the Fort Collins City Council on the 2008 Draft Utilities Energy Policy.
The new draft will enhance the previous policy decision in 2003, which established goals to maintain high system reliability, maintain competitive electric rates and reduce the environmental impact of electricity use and generation. The new policy will attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
Freshman music major Brian Provencher said the policy has good intentions and the city will find a way to achieve its goals.
“I’m confident in the local government,” Brian Provencher, a freshman music major, said. “It’s important to be proactive and set the objectives in place before you make any firm decisions.”
Fort Collins resident Eric Sutherland disagreed.
“Without an indication of how Fort Collins will account for greenhouse gas emissions, it’s just another dog and pony show set up to stage a spontaneous eruption of mutual back-patting,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland, a local energy policy critic, said he believes thenew policy is indistinguishable from the 2003 measure.
“Quite honestly, there is no difference,” he said. “In some places we’ve actually taken some steps backward.”
Sutherland added the draft is merely an excuse for why the local government is not currently working on a practical plan.
“We need a plan, not a policy. This policy does not tell anybody what the Fort Collins energy future will hold.”
Kevin Cross, Convener of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, said he would support the policy only if certain amendments were added.
He said he wanted more decrease in electricity usage than the current one percent annually.
“Basically we want to raise that 1 percent to 1.7 percent,” Cross said. “Because currently the policy doesn’t set a very aggressive goal for the city to reduce its electrical energy consumption.”
According to Sutherland, this revision would still leave the policy inadequate.
“I think that’s a good start. I think the only complaint I would forward to Kevin is that he’s still treating the policy as if it’s meaningful,” he said.
Sutherland added, “Economic principles ought to be the driving force. The city government is not going to solve the energy crisis, but they can provide for energy sustainability.”
State Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, said the policy must facilitate the use of sustainable practices on the grassroots level.
“We have to incentivize or make it easier for houses to have energy efficient appliances. With zero interest loans, a household or family can purchase an energy efficient washer or furnace,” Kefalas said.
Kefalas said the Fort Collins program Zero Interest Loans for Conservation Help could aid those who wish to update home technology to a more environmentally responsible level.
ZILCH assists Fort Collins inhabitants by providing lists of recommendations that would reduce the carbon footprint of a residence.
Staff writer Tyler Okland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.