Empower Our Future

Clean Energy. Local Control.

Events & Education

Energy: education — inspiration — aspiration

UPCOMING 2022 EMPOWER HOUR EVENTS

Save the Dates:

July 21, 2022 Empower Hour:
Geof Syphers of Sonoma Clean Power

Lessons from CA for Community Choice Energy in Colorado

In 2002 California communities passed Assembly Bill 117, the “Community Choice Aggregation Law”, allowing local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of their communities. Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) was formed to provide a choice beyond a for-profit, investor-owned utility (PG&E).

Today SCP is a model for community choice programs throughout California. By providing higher percentages of renewable energy that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Sonoma Clean Power customers help solve the climate crisis at a local level.

This talk presented by SCP CEO, Geof Syphers will cover SCP’s hand’s-on boot up of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) to accelerate renewables and incorporate sharing Community Benefits. 

Sonoma Clean Power’s experience can provide valuable insight and lessons learned for how best to move forward with Community Choice Energy here in Colorado. 

Join us to learn how CCAs are essential for financing climate mitigation and adaptation efforts and what ‘community benefits’ can mean. In Sonoma, this community benefit manifests as an Advanced Energy Rebuild program, the Advanced Energy Center, a Geothermal Opportunity Zone, GridSavvy, Bike Electric, EV charging, and procuring storage. 

August 18, 2022 Empower Hour:
Citizen Information on the “Repeal CU South Annexation”

Our August 18th Empower Hour features information for citizens to help them make an informed decision this fall. Members of the Repeal CU South Annexation campaign will present their perspective on the November ballot issue. 

Speakers:

Gordon McCurry, Ph.D  Hydrology – CU Boulder

Renée Millard- Chacon, Dinè/Azteca Native Coloradoan, Spirit of the Sun – Youth Program Coordinator, Founder – Womxn (CO Native Women’s Network)

Steven Telleen, Ph.D. Environmental Biology – CU Boulder, South Boulder Creek Citizen Initiative

Registration will open approximately 2 weeks prior to the event date. Empower Hours begin at 6pm and end at 7pm or close to it.

PAST EMPOWER HOUR EVENTS

June 16, 2022 Empower Hour:
City of Boulder Climate Initiatives Department

Our June 16th Empower Hour features the City of Boulder’s Interim Director of Climate Initiatives, Jonathan Koehn and Energy Manager, Carolyn Elam. They’ll discuss some of the city’s climate strategy, next stage of work for decarbonizing energy systems and a potential November ballot measure to simplify and extend funding for climate work.  In addition, we heard from Rella Abernathy, Yael Gichon, Jamie Harkins, and Matt Lehrman about several city programs related to climate strategy.

Questions received during the Empower Hour will be answered and we will make the responses available. 

These City representatives are interested in feedback — come prepared with ideas and strategies the city should consider if the tax is approved. 

Empower Hours begin at 6pm and end at 7pm or close to it.

May 12, 2022 Empower Hour:
Boulder County Commissioner Candidate Forum

Join us as we welcome Boulder County District 3 Commissioner Candidates Elaina Shively and Ashley Stolzmann, who are running to fill outgoing Commissioner Matt Jones’ seat. Via this virtual event, we’ll learn about the candidates and what their priorities as a Boulder County Commissioner would be. We are collating the community’s climate and energy questions for the candidates, and will include them.

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) consists of three individuals elected to serve four-year terms as leaders of the Boulder County government. All three commissioners are elected at-large by the voters of Boulder County and represent the county as a whole.

The primary election date is June 28, 2022. 

Qualified residents may register to vote up to and including Election Day. However, in order to receive a ballot in the mail, the Boulder County Clerk & Recorder’s office must receive your voter registration no later than 8 days before the election. If you register after this time, you must visit a Vote Center in order to vote.  The Secretary of State has a voter registration Frequently Asked Questions page.

We plan to ask the candidates about the climate and energy issues that matter to you.  We will ask the candidates questions about climate and energy, submitted by the community. Thanks to all who asked a question!

Thank You Event Affiliates:

•  350 Boulder County  •  Clean Energy Action  •  GreenLatinos

The Candidates

Elaina Shively
Ashley Stolzmann

April 21, 2022 Empower Hour:
SUNCOR REFINERY UPDATE with Olga Gonzalez of Cultivando

Olga Gonzalez, Executive Director of Cultivando, gave an update on A.I.R.E. and the situation at Suncor.  A.I.R.E. (Air Quality Investigation and Research for Equity) is a year-long community-based research project to bring awareness, education, unity, and action around poor air quality due to toxic air pollution from Suncor.  

Olga was joined by Phil Doe, Environmental Director at Be The Change.

The Suncor oil refinery in Denver processes dirty tar sands and generates massive amounts of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants, including VOC’s, particulates, hydrogen cyanide, and sulfur dioxide.

And, the refinery has been operating for years on expired permits. This, plus Suncor’s malfunctions (that have sent clouds of orange smoke and ash over the neighborhood nearby), have made the refinery into a symbol of environmental injustice.

We encourage you to view a short film made about the situation with SunCor called Suncor Sundown.

Listen to KGNU’s interview of Olga Gonzalez by Rossana Longo-Better

Related commentary by Phil Doe:

What's So Super About Super Caps? • Thursday, March 17, 2022 with Supercapacitor expert Todd Pistorese

Starting with ‘SuperCaps 101’, Todd will explain these advanced energy-storage systems (as an alternative to chemical batteries) characterized by:

  • a very long life span  
  • high charge density | high power density
  • rapid recovery and recharge potential
  • greater safety

SuperCap technology is now being implemented by many types of customers — industrial, commercial, residential, remote resort, telecommunication and mass-transit, due to the low-maintenance, extreme weather tolerance and attractive levelized cost of energy (LCOE). SuperCaps are non-toxic, recyclable, renewable energy compatible and facilitate both utility-scale and micro-grid and residential Time of Renewables. Bring your questions and learn more about these advantageous energy storage systems

About Our Speaker: Todd Pistorese is Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Supercapacitor Energy, LLC. Before forming Supercapacitor Energy, Todd held the position of Managing Director, Asia Pacific for OSIsoft, LLC a Bay Area based IT company. Other roles at OSIsoft include Municipal Power Director and Utility Business Development Manager where he developed and oversaw the T&D and Power Generation business sectors, a $200 million annual revenue base for OSIsoft. Todd’s 36-year career includes in-depth electric utility experience at Puget Sound Energy in T&D Operations, Information Technology for Operations, and Integrated Resource Planning. Todd also founded and continues to lead Intelligent Design Solar, LLC an Edge-of-Network, Cloud computing company focused on Distributed Energy Resource management solutions.

Todd has authored numerous technical articles published in national energy journals and presented at conferences including Distributech, PowerGen, Solar Power International, and Solar Power World Online.

Todd holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Washington and an MBA from the University of Puget Sound. He is co-inventor and US Patent holder for Automated Electric Plat Design an Artificial Intelligence and Geographic Information System electric distribution design tool.

Bonus Video: Super Capacitors In Action

Ron Sinton: All Electricity customers (especially EV owners) can enable low-cost clean power. Will they? • Thursday, January 20, 2022 at 6pm

For grids moving towards clean energy, customers can play an important role in accelerating the transition by literally demanding clean energy. With high levels of wind and solar, the power supply on the electrical grid begins to swing between clean and dirty energy depending on night and day for PV, and wind speed at all times of night and day for wind power. This talk will look in detail at historical Colorado wind and solar data and project renewable trends out to 2030. I will show optimal strategies for everyone; individuals, government, and companies, to preferentially use clean energy and energy efficiency to create a flexible electricity demand profile that can be met with the highest possible level renewables at the lowest possible cost–in the near term. This talk will be both aspirational and pragmatic, with proven solutions but also a more radical proposal to use an understanding of renewables in order to use power as if the clean-power grid that we want exists, in order to proactively pull it into reality.

About Ron Sinton: Ron is a Coloradoan that spent a bit of time in California working on a PhD on high-efficiency silicon solar cells at Stanford, followed by becoming a founding member of the PV company SunPower. After starting his own manufacturing company, Sinton Instruments, that exports electronic equipment used in solar-cell manufacturing, Ron moved the company to Boulder, CO. In recent years, he has also worked in the modeling of clean-energy systems with a particular interest in following the progress of the local utility, Xcel, in detail. This experience has allowed him to serve as a bit of a “bridge” between the technical specialists in his original field of research (PV R&D) and the quite different details of how decisions to use PV and wind are made at the utility scale through the process involving utilities, politicians, and regulators. He has taken a role as moderator in the technical conference in the sessions on the drive towards 100% renewables. He remains a bit of a PV-industry insider providing equipment to nearly every company worldwide that makes silicon solar cells worldwide. He also tinkers with EVs and PV arrays.

www.sintoninstruments.com

Thanks to everyone who testified at the Colorado Public Utility Commissioners’ Electric Resource Plan Remote Comment Public Hearing on Dec. 2, 2021.

EcoCycle on the Role of Zero Waste as a Climate Solution • Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 6pm

Watch the video for numerous ways you can make a difference. And, visit EcoCycle.org for additional information, including the 2021 Eco-Cycle Holiday Guide.

Zero Waste is one of the quickest, easiest and most effective first steps for a community to immediately reduce its GHG emissions.  Zan Jones, Executive Director of EcoCycle, along with Rosie Briggs, Community Education & Engagement Manager/Eco-Leaders Network Manager, discuss where we are, where we need to go, and how to get there.  

At this Empower Hour Zan shared an exciting announcement:  EcoCycle’s first all electric compost collection truck should be on the street, soon!

Suzanne (Zan) Jones is the executive director of Eco-Cycle, a 42-year-old community nonprofit that promotes and implements recycling, composting, and other zero-waste solutions. Jones has over 25 years of public policy experience at the local, state, and federal levels focused on environmental conservation change. She was the central Rockies regional director for The Wilderness Society for 16 years, and, before moving back to Colorado where she spent much of her youth, she worked at the National Wildlife Federation and as congressional staff for the Fisheries and Wildlife Subcommittee in the US House of Representatives. Zan served on Boulder City Council from November 2011-2019 and was the mayor of Boulder, CO, for the last four years of her Council term. 

Boulder Reporting Lab article on Eco-Cycle and interview with Zan Jones.

John Farrell, Co-Director, Institute for Local Self Reliance on Energy Democracy • Thursday, November 11, 2021 at 6pm

John Farrell is a co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs the Energy Democracy Initiative. Widely known as the guru of distributed energy, John has received accolades for his vivid illustrations of the economic and environmental benefits of local ownership of decentralized renewable energy. He hosts the Local Energy Rules podcast, telling powerful stories of local clean energy action, and frequently discusses the ownership and scale of the energy system on Twitter, @johnffarrell. 

John authored Energy Self-Reliant States, a state-by-state atlas of renewable energy potential highlighted in the New York Times, showing that most states don’t need to look outside their borders to meet their electricity needs. He’s also written extensively on the economic advantages of Democratizing the Electricity System and community renewable energy, published a rich interactive map on solar grid parity, and polished the policies (like Minnesota’s solar energy standard) necessary to support locally owned renewable energy development. 

Farrell was integral in working with XCEL Minnesota, State of Minnesota, and others on the seminal Value of Solar study and also highly instrumental in making Minnesota the U.S. leader in community solar! 

John provides data-rich presentations on local renewable energy for the common citizen across the glove. John’s work appears most regularly on Energy Self-Reliant States, a blog with timely and compelling analysis of current energy discussions and policy. 

Climate & Energy Forums with Boulder City Council Candidates: Thursday, October 7 & Monday, October 11 at 6pm.

Note, while Empower Hours are usually 60 minutes, the Candidate Forums will be 90 minutes each, due to the number of candidates running.

Thursday October 7, 2021
Matt Benjamin
Lauren Folkerts
David Takahashi
Dan Williams
Steven Rosenblum

Monday October 11, 2021
Nicole Speer
Mark Wallach
Michael Christy
Tara Winer
Jacques Decalo 

Dr. Peter Lilienthal: What's Up with Microgrids
Thursday, August 12 at 6pm

Microgrids are frequently mentioned in relation to renewable energy, but what exactly are they? Join us to learn the answer, hear a brief history of microgrids, how they are used around the globe, and how they might be utilized in Colorado communities.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Dr. Peter Lilienthal is Global Microgrid Lead for UL, LLC. Previously, he was the CEO of HOMER Energy. Since 1992, he has been the developer of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s HOMER® hybrid power optimization software, which has been used by over 250,000 energy practitioners in 193 countries. NREL licensed HOMER Energy to be the sole world-wide commercialization licensee to distribute and enhance the HOMER model.

Dr. Lilienthal was the Senior Economist with International Programs at NREL from 1990 – 2007. He was one of the creators of NREL’s Village Power Program. He has a Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University. He has been active in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency since 1978. This has included designing and teaching courses at the university level, project development of independent power projects, and consulting to industry and regulators. His expertise is in the economic and financial analysis of renewable and micro-grid projects.

View Dr. Lilienthal’s PPT slides (pdf) here.  

See the Hot Topics page for more about microgrids.

Chris Hoffman on National Legislation: Wednesday, May 19 at 6pm

Powering America Forward to Clean Energy

A carbon price is the single most powerful tool available to reduce America’s carbon pollution. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act puts a fee on carbon pollution, creating a level playing field for clean energy. The money collected from fossil fuel companies goes to Americans in the form of a monthly ‘carbon cash back’ payment so that everyone can afford the transition.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER:  Chris Hoffman, M.B.A., M.Ed. is a retired management consultant and counselor with 23 years’ experience in the utility industry as well as additional consulting experience in other industries, plus five years’ experience in mental health counseling with various agencies. He is the author of an ecopsychology book, several professional articles, and three books of poetry.  He currently devotes most of his time to volunteer work for an equitable and thriving future with a livable climate. Chris has been an active volunteer with Empower Our Future (formerly RenewablesYES) since 2011, and with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) since 2013.  For four years Chris was CCL’s liaison to Senator Michael Bennet.

April 28, 2021: Energy Expert, Ken Regelson — Making Miles While the Sun Shines: Why charging EVs for cheap is good for everyone’s electric bill.

Ken Regelson speaks on energy in clear and engaging ways to audiences of all experience levels – energy nerds to regular folk. He has a master’s degree in electrical engineering, along with 21 years of experience in modeling and analysis of an energy grid based primarily on renewables. For five years, Ken was a policy analyst at the state capitol and Public Utilities Commission representing Colorado’s solar installers. For much of last year, Ken had five interns working on key grid-impact questions of high levels of renewables and energy policy.  Slides are here.

Resources from Ken & EnergyShouldBe.org 

• Talk to Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists – Members in Transition. 4/15/21. What is Driving the Energy Transition? Climate, cost, and competition.

• A 2 minute guide to electric car charging on YouTube

• EnergyShouldBe.org intern Kirya Miller’s 20 minute video gets into detail on modeling Alternatives to New Natural Gas Generation for Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) based specifically on several months of modeling dark calms using PRPA data. Note: we are using PRPA data with permission. We have no professional relationship with PRPA.

• A 7-minute summary version of the next video: Alternatives to New Natural Gas Generation for Platte River Power Authority

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Thanks to CEA for a great evening on March 31!

CEA 15th Anniversary Celebration & Sneak Peak at Xcel’s Energy Resource Plan. Video will be posted soon.

March 18, 2021: CCE Deep Dive with Rep. Hooton and Larry Miloshevich

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Community Choice Energy (CCE) allows communities to choose alternative wholesale electricity suppliers, while the utility continues to deliver the electricity and manage customer service and billing. CCE has good potential for faster progress on climate change and more competitive rates. Subject matter expert, Larry Miloshevich, was on hand to answer questions.

February 11, 2021: Virtual Energy and Environment Town Hall with Senator Fenberg and Reps. Hooton and Amabile

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The second of our “Empower Hour” series, this was our first legislative preview of the 2021 session! Thanks to Senator Fenberg, Rep. Hooton, and Rep. Amabile. The legislators spoke about the energy and environmental priorities for the Seventy-third General Assembly — and that important energy legislation is forthcoming!

January 28, 2021: Holy Cross Energy and Their Journey to 100% Renewables

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We had a great conversation with Holy Cross Energy Team Members Bryan Hannegan, President and CEO and Steve Beuning, Vice President, Power Supply and Programs

In December 2020, Holy Cross Energy (serving areas around Aspen, Vail and Glenwood Springs) announced that they would go to 100% renewable electricity by 2030. It was terrific to hear about their successes and challenges.