HRCA examines energy audit

Pilot program with state could save big dollars

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In an effort to become more energy efficient and save money, the Highlands Ranch Community Association is taking the first step in teaming with the Colorado Energy Office as part of a pilot program that could help the organization for years to come.

HRCA CEO Jerry Flannery introduced the idea to the delegate body Jan. 15, outlining a plan that would allow the organization to avoid dipping into its reserve fund for major expenditures, but instead finance 10 years’ worth of savings as result of an energy audit to pay for future fixes.

The organization, which is up against a March 1 deadline to apply for the program, was given the green light to begin interviewing participating Energy Service Companies, so they can have one selected prior to voting on whether to go ahead with the initial audit.

The state, which has worked with public entities in a similar fashion in the past, has launched the pilot program to encourage private entities and major nonprofits to become more energy efficient as well.

“The Department of Energy wanted to support a program that mirrored the public sector program and provided third-party help, but at the same time help remove some of the barriers of cost that goes along with the energy audit,” said Brian Carlin, senior consultant with the Boulder company, Nexant, which has been providing third-party assistance to the state for the past four years.

In helping remove some of that cost, the energy office is providing a 75 percent buy-down on the technical energy audit with a cap of $25,000.

With that help, along with rebates from Xcel Energy, the audit would cost the HRCA somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000. According to Flannery, if the decision were made to go ahead with the program, that cost would be rolled into the long-term financing. If the HRCA opted against the program, the audit would be paid for out of the reserve fund.

“If we move forward with the audit I think it’s going to be beneficial regardless of what we decide to do with it,” Flannery said. “Even if our decision is to make our equipment more efficient on our own with a catch-as-catch-can approach that is something we can do too. We are still becoming more efficient and saving money.”

According to Carlin, the program has helped save more than $350 million in upgrade costs for public entities in Colorado over the past four years. The HRCA would be the first nonprofit organization to become involved with the pilot program, but seven public recreation districts have been assisted by the program.