Colorado Alternative Energy Office Funds Dwindling

Funding for Governor’s Energy Office is running low and this could affect the renewable energy companies in Denver. GEO is currently funded through federal grants for a period of three years and the funds will dry up a year from now if it would not be replenished.

The GEO’s funds were from the Colorado Clean Energy Fund but due to budget cuts by the legislators, the funding will be discontinued. Through the funding stream, which came from a percentage of Colorado gaming revenue, the energy office received $4 million in 2009 and $7 million in 2008.

The GEO needs to find another source of funds in 2012 so that it could continue with its programs and to provide more economic opportunities for people in the alternative energy field. It’s not just the Governor’s Energy Office suffering from lack of funds. Renewable energy rebates and incentives are also running out of money.

This is not the good time to invest in alternative energy according to industry analysts. Xcel Energy had to decrease the incentives it offers to businesses and homeowners who install photovoltaic systems on their properties. This, plus the GEO situation, has every solar company in Denver cutting downsizing their manpower.

It was reported that in 2010, 400 to 600 solar industry jobs were lost and that’s just in the state of Denver. This was because of uncertainty with Xcel’s plans as well as similar issues with Black Hills Corp., which is another power utility provider in Colorado. By the end of this year, a half of solar industry jobs will be lost because of the situations regarding GEO and Xcel.

The Governor’s Energy Office finances the Colorado Energy Star Mortgage program, which helps make the interest rate lower by 0.5 percent than other mortgages available on the market. The homeowners would use the money they saved to improve their homes to be more energy-efficient.

But the good news is that not all incentive programs are canceled. People should keep their eyes out for local, state and federal rebates. Boulder County has its own federally funded program that gives up to $1,000 per household in EnergySmart rebates until July 31.

The GEO gave out around $10 million in rebates in the past 11 months, which resulted to about $90 million in new contractor work and new material costs. If GEO is dissolved, the whole alternative energy sector in Colorado will be hurt.

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