By Brian Brainerd
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter visited a Denver home undergoing energy efficiency improvements from Veterans Green Jobs to mark Energy Awareness Month on Friday, Oct. 8, 2010.
American Energy Week was promoted by the federal government from 1981 through 1985 and became a month-long observance at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 1986. On September 13, 1991, President George Bush proclaimed October as Energy Awareness Month and the DOE has conducted energy awareness campaigns annually to promote energy efficiency and conservation.
The Weatherization Assistance program was launched in 1976 as a response to the first energy crisis to deliver financial relief from energy bills by improving home energy performance and safety. Colorado received $80 million in Stimulus funding to weatherize about 8,000 to 10,000 homes in Colorado by 2012. The average value of weatherization work is $6500 per dwelling and the GEO will also receive funding from a Weatherization Innovation grant to pilot the use of home energy monitors to help manage energy consumption in low income households.
Ritter is greeted by homeowner Eric Lopez as he arrived to the press event Friday morning. It was a happy twist of fate for home Lopez, a veteran laid off from his construction job last year, who now also works for Veterans Green Jobs a a trainer.
State energy programs nationwide scrambled to meet lofty weatherization production goals funded by the Recovery Act. The next challenge is to nurture market rate weatherization markets to absorb the weatherization technicians when ARRA funds are exhausted in 2012.
Ritter appeared with Chuck Watkins, center, executive director of the Region 9 weatherization program for Veterans Green Jobs and Steve Byers, right, a partner in EnergyLogic Solutions of Berthoud.The state weatherization program is part of the Governor’s Energy Office, which has been a cornerstone of Governor Ritter’s efforts to build a new energy economy.
Ritter talks with GEO spokesman Todd Hartman after the event. As the governor’s term in office comes to a close, there is a concern that the next governor may not bring the same level of commitment to the new energy economy and to the GEO’s leadership in that effort.
The event was organized by Linda Lidov, left, media coordinator for Veterans Green Jobs. She is pictured with Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Governor’s Energy Office, and Hilarie Portell, media consultant for EnergyLogic Solutions, the for-profit partner with Veterans Green Jobs for the Region 9 Weatherization program in Denver and Jefferson Counties
Hartman described the considerable effort GEO made to seed Stimulus funds across a wide range of energy programs to spur the growth of Colorado’s New Energy Economy..