Yampa Valley Partners to hire regional energy coordinator

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Kate Nowak

When asked why local governments would be interested in talking to a community energy coordinator, Kate Nowak gave possibly one of the most attractive reasons: money.

Nowak, exec­utive director for Yampa Val­ley Partners, said her organization received a $120,000 grant in federal stimulus funds from the Governor’s Energy Office to hire a part-time energy coordinator for Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

The person will be responsible for developing a strategic sustainability plan to position the region for the new energy economy, presenting new state energy efficiency and renewable resource programs to local officials, and helping governments apply for and acquire new grant funds to help pay for the first two tasks.

“Why would a town or county want to be a part of the program?” Nowak said. “The more coordination we get as a region behind energy efficiency and renewable energy, the better chance we have to get more money.”

The $120,000 grant will be split between 2010 and 2011 and will go toward paying for the energy coordinator position and administrative costs.

Nowak said she contacted elected officials throughout the tri-county region and was surprised and encouraged by how similar efforts already have started.

Craig and Moffat County officials are working together to analyze their old buildings and estimate how much it would cost for renovations to bring them up to new efficiency standards, Nowak said.

A similar push is under way in Rio Blanco and Routt counties, she added.

“There’s quite a bit going on in the three-county area that that person can build off of,” Nowak said.

The director said taking on the Governor’s Energy Office program was a natural fit for Yampa Valley Partners, which already hosts the annual Energy Summit that brings hundreds of industry insiders to Craig.

“The Energy Summit is a great event for here because that is a big part of our region,” Nowak said. “We want to roll more information about energy efficiency and renewable energies into that, and this is a great place to start.”

She added that some companies are investing in renewable resource projects locally, such as speculative plans to build a transmission line from the wind farms in Wyoming through Colorado and into Las Vegas.

Nowak also said Peabody Energy, which owns Twentymile Coal Co., also is putting a lot of money into clean coal technology research.

“There are a lot of great things going on, and we want to facilitate some of that,” she said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

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