January was meeting month! I kicked off the new year by meeting with Fort Collins Utility’s (FCU) efficiency manager John Phelan. My impression leaving the meeting was that FCU is focused on new goals and philosophy. That is important and needs to be done, but not at the expense of implementing “on the ground” projects that actually help people. The On-Bill Financing program had a first year goal of 30 and achieved 6 (details on our “financing efficiency” page). It is a recognized failure. FCU knows why the program was a flop and what needs to be done to fix it but they don’t want to take the time to do it right. That is not acceptable!
So the next meetings were with City Council members. I met individually with the Mayor and each Council member except Gino Campanaro who said he didn’t have time to meet with Cforse (he will after hearing from our members in his district, about 2,000 people). Council had not been educated about what needs to be done to make the program work and so had given FCU direction that led to the failure and will continue the failure unless new direction is given. They each agreed that it is important that the City develop quality programs, not failures, and appear to be dedicated to making sure this is done correctly.
The last meeting that I had was with the City Manager, Darin Atteberry, Utility Director, Brian Janonis, and John Phelan. They had been hearing about it from Council! It was a little bit uncomfortable, some tension about me rocking the boat, but with a focus on achievement. Darin agreed and took notes, we all agreed that FCU does a good job, and we talked about how to move forward.
To make this program a success requires buy-in, true investment, from a few different city departments. It is up to the City Manager and Council to manage that process, that’s the organizational structure, and that’s what broke down in the development of this program. FCU didn’t properly educate Council and Council didn’t learn enough to properly question FCU. How many other projects and programs are not what they should be because of this scenario? Council gets paid $16,000 per year. They have other full time jobs and don’t have time to learn about every issue. This is why citizen advocates are needed. It is important to be involved in your community and your local government. Cforse exists to represent residents on energy issues. You must educate and inspire Council about all of your Fort Collins concerns. We are all Fort Collins!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell Fort Collins City Council that you are a CforSE supporter! It can be that simple or you can add a little about why you like us soooo much!