Colorado County, City Curb Energy Hogs

What could be more invigorating than a soak in your spa or a dip in your pool? How about the knowledge that the energy needed to run that spa or pool is being created by your own energy system on your property?

December 01, 2001

 

Builder Mike Augello of Wodehouse Builders has been using photovoltaics, such as the ones on this custom home in Aspen, Colo., for years. He says renewable energy systems are often 40% cheaper for his clients than renewable energy mitigation fees.

What could be more invigorating than a soak in your spa or a dip in your pool? How about the knowledge that the energy needed to run that spa or pool is being created by your own energy system on your property?

Pitkin County and the city of Aspen, Colo., are requiring luxury home buyers to install a renewable energy system or pay a minimum $5,000 mitigation fee on homes of more than 5,000 square feet or those with energy-sapping outdoor features such as pools, spas and snowmelt systems. The Renewable Energy Mitigation Program was introduced in January 2000 with the long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas and other air pollution in the Roaring Fork Valley.

According to the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, the Aspen group that administers REMP funds, a 4,000-square-foot home in that area will use 600,000 pounds of coal and 12 million cubic feet of natural gas during the next 10 years, creating 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide. “That much pollution,” its pamphlet says, “is equal to driving 10 times around the planet.”

At first, most builders or homeowners paid the fee, which is collected at the permitting stage. REMP reports having collected $1.2 million in a little more than a year, with CORE funneling the funds to various projects in the area. REMP funds, for example, paid for solar water heaters at an affordable housing project.

CORE also uses REMP funds as incentives to help reduce the cost of the renewable energy systems for which owners and their builders opt.

Now, most people faced with the choice of a renewable energy system or the fee are opting to build systems, many of which have been solar or geothermal, says Joani Matranga, a CORE coordinator.

“Now that they realize that they can invest money in their own property, we’re seeing more of that, which is exactly what we were hoping. We’ve been successful in meeting the public goals of encouraging renewable energy.”

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