Special to Delta County Independent

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) recently announced it has launched a formal partnership with Paonia-based educational non-profit Solar Energy International (SEI). This strategic partnership will expand the reach of resources to Colorado communities working to transition to cleaner energy and increase economic recovery and resiliency.

The partnership will expand and promote SEI’s Solar Forward initiative and CEO’s Building Innovation and Energy Finance programs including the Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency program, the Colorado Residential Energy Upgrade (RENU) loan and Energy Performance Contracting. SEI’s Solar Forward is a Colorado-based program that provides technical consulting and a toolkit to support solar market development in rural communities. Solar Forward leverages SEI’s technical solar workforce training to empower these communities and encourage a just transition to clean energy and sustainability. CEO’s programs help Colorado communities increase economic and climate resiliency through technical support, financing and a turnkey approach.

In addition to providing critical resources to rural communities throughout the state, the CEO and SEI partnership will:

1) Provide quarterly webinars on topics such as residential and commercial solar market development during COVID-19 resource cutbacks, success stories and roadmaps of communities transitioning to clean energy as well as other strategic renewable energy training. The following webinar is planned for this week:

Renewable Energy Success Stories: How the transition from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy aids in resilience and recovery in rural communities

In this webinar, attendees will learn about consulting and tools offered through SEI’s Solar Forward program including first-hand accounts from past participants. CEO will present on its Energy Performance Contracting program for Gunnison County and the NW Regional Solar Project.

When: Sept. 29, 2020, 10

2) Use the partnership as a platform to apply for federal funding to expand program offerings to new communities.

3) Collaborate with other state efforts to work with communities on a clean energy transition including the Just Transition Office within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, which was created by House Bill 19-1314 to help coal-dependent communities transition to a more diversified, equitable and vibrant economic future.

Michael Turner, director of Building Innovation and Energy Finance at CEO said, “We have many programs that offer critical technical and financial support to rural communities looking to transition to clean energy. A strategic partnership with industry-leading SEI increases our reach, impact and offerings — we expect our collaboration to continue to grow in size and scope in the years to come.”

“SEI is so excited to kick off a partnership between the Solar Forward program and the Colorado Energy Office. SEI’s rural-centric programming aligns with the energy office’s work to bring resources to citizens across Colorado. Together, we can join forces to aid in the just transition to a renewable and energy-efficient future in rural communities across the state,” said SEI Solar Forward Program Manager Mary Marshall.

Gov. Jared Polis is acting to address Colorado’s climate crisis through a bold vision to get to 100% renewable energy by 2040 and meet the science-based targets for reducing GHG pollution. Under the direction of the governor’s Climate Cabinet, several state agencies including CEO are working together to deliver on the goals of this vision by building a roadmap for climate action, which includes partnerships like this one with SEI to provide targeted resources to rural communities for progress toward a clean energy future.

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