Although its sitting on one of the largest known oil reserves in the world, the town of Rifle, located about half an hour west of Glenwood Springs, recognizes the importance of renewable energy for its long term economical stability. During an interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner (go to source), Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert describes the extractive industry as following a boom and bust cycle; so the town hopes to alleviate the cyclical swings by marrying its renewable energy portfolio with its extractive energy portfolio. The town is also concerned that their future may be bleak if the current sources of energy run out, or becomes too costly to produce.
The town has created an Energy Innovation Center in hopes of attracting green energy development. The center sites atop a reclaimed hazardous waste site, and is described as an “incubator” for renewable energy.
Currently at the Center is a 2.3 mega-watt (MW) solar panel array. To put that in perspective, consider how many homes the solar panel array could power. An average home consumes about 720 kilowatts-hrs per month, there are 720 hours in a 30-day month, so a home consumes about 1-kilowatt continuously all month long. A 2.3 MW solar array with an average of 20% of peak performance could produce approximately half a MW continuously; which is 500-KW, or enough for approximately 500 homes. The solar array is the 2nd largest in Colorado. The mayor claims that the solar array is within the top ten largest municipal solar array in the US.
To attract green energy development, the city is offering companies:
• Inexpensive or free land
• Sales tax rebates
• And a whole package of development incentives.
The city also boasts:
• I-70 access
• Rail train
• And an airport
The city is open to all business ideas, but particularly interested in biomass to biofuels projects, algae to fuel, and modular housing that meet LEED certification.
Success would be jobs for a family that stays in the community long term and not moves in and out during boom bust cycles.
Map of Rifle’s Energy Innovation Center.