Decarbonizing One Community at a Time

Martin Voelker
CRES Jefferson County Chapter

Activist workshop in Golden drew a crowd.

Lack of knowledge isn’t the problem, lack of action is. This realization, in a nutshell, was the driving motivation behind a workshop put together by Leslie Glustrom, Marie Venner, Jeff Newman-Lee and the author on February 6. Apparently, this orientation towards action hit a nerve, drawing almost 40 people from all over the Front Range, including a large contingent from Pueblo, someone from Estes Park and folks from Golden, Wheat Ridge, Boulder, Erie, and Denver.

Over the course of five hours participants first delved into the basics of community organizing (led by Jeff Newman-Lee with Fossil Fuel Free Denver). The goal was to form local groups, pinpointing who they would be speaking to, how to focus on specific goals, and how to go about it in a strategic, non-threatening, and persistent manner.

The workshop’s main organizer, Leslie Glustrom with Boulder CRES and Clean Energy Action, then explained how Colorado’s utilities have consistently put shareholder profits over the public good while putting a “green veneer” over their energy production which is 70 % fossil fuel based (details in an upcoming article).

Glustrom contrasted this with mathematical models created by a high powered group of citizens and data scientists in Boulder. They calculated how it would be possible to reverse those percentages by replacing coal and natural gas with renewables plus battery storage – all the while keeping electricity rates at 2011 levels.

This would be the equivalent of taking millions of gasoline and diesel cars off the road, and would have a meaningful impact not just on green house gas emissions but would also reduce other toxic power plant pollutants like Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and mercury (Hg), that currently impair people’s health.

Ken Regelson with the educational non-profit EnergyShouldbe.org (Motto: Learning & Actions to Create a Renewably Powered Future!) followed up, outlining how Colorado really does have the tools to go quickly to 100% Renewables by 2035 (not a typo!) – or even faster if there’s consensus to small rate 1 to 2 cent/KWh rate increases that would accelerate the transition. Watch his workshop keynote which succinctly outlines his concept on the CRES YouTube channel.

In the final hour participants made concrete plans on how to approach their respective city councilors, sustainability board members or city managers.

The consensus: We won’t tolerate utilities that blindly put profit over the health of local residents and the health of our one and only planet when cost effective and technologically feasible renewable energy alternatives are at hand.

Kudos to all who committed to stepping forward as local leaders, and to CRES, Clean Energy Action and 350 Colorado for knowledge, tools and enthusiasm for a shared purpose.