Scientific evidence incontrovertibly demonstrates that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG) released into the atmosphere are currently impacting the Earth’s climate and will continue to have profound and devastating effects. To address the local impacts and embrace the opportunities presented by this critical issue, the Boulder County Consortium of Cities convened the Energy Strategy Task Force. One of the chief aims of the Task Force is to provide “a framework for local and regional action on energy sustainability.”
The Sustainable Energy Plan (SEP) seeks to provide such a framework. The SEP includes 35 recommended actions that will lead to meaningful progress toward a sustainable energy future.
Increased Energy Efficiency Will Result in Cost Savings
These actions will not only reduce our county’s impact on global climate change, they also result in significant cost savings through increased energy efficiency. In fact, most of the identified actions pay for themselves in six years or less. Of the 35 total actions, cost, cost savings, and GHG reduction impacts have been quantified for 30 of them. The remaining five strategies focus on planning, educational, and revenue-generating efforts that could not be quantified.
Prioritization of Actions
Out of the 35 actions identified, 20 actions are recommended for “first tier” adoption based on: their emissions reductions potential, their cost effectiveness, and to ensure equitable contributions across the main GHG contributing sectors. The key strategies include voluntary and support actions as well as statewide and local regulatory programs. Combined, and accounting for overlap between strategies, these key strategies will lead to:
- Emissions reductions in 2012 of more than 1.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
- Emissions reductions in 2020 of more than 3.6 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent
- Annual cost savings in 2020 of more than $445 million.
- Nine year payback for all 20 actions (5 years for all actions except vehicle-to-grid)
Putting the impact of these strategies into perspective, the Kyoto target calls for developed countries to reduce their GHG emissions 7% below 1990 levels by the year 2012. The SEP strategies will bring the county nearly halfway (46%) toward achieving the Kyoto Protocol target.
In the longer term, these strategies will reduce emissions even more significantly. By 2020, for example, the SEP strategies will enable the county to reduce GHG emissions 11% below 1990 levels. Putting this in terms of Governor Ritter’s Climate Action goal (which uses a 2005 baseline) the SEP will result in a reduction of emissions 40% below 2005 levels in the year 2020. This is a reduction nearly twice that called for by the Governor.