As Fort Collins roles out the Climate Action Implementation Plan the rubber is hitting the road. Already we have had to defend decisions that council made and staff is trying to back out of. In June the city's Climate Action Leadership Team recommended that council not extend funding for the commercial energy efficiency program. This program has the best return on investment of any of the city's efficiency programs. It provides rebates to businesses to change their lighting. It has been wildly successful. It helps businesses reduce cost, reduces the need for Utilities to build infrastructure, provides work to more than 60 electrical contractors, and reduces our energy footprint. It is also something that council explicitly decided to fund in March.
Staff wanted to defund the program because unexpected costs appeared in other areas of the Fort Collins Utilities budget (rumor is the new Utility building on LaPorte is WAY over budget). The very "leaders" on staff who are supposed to administer the climate action plan are ready to sacrifice the most effective tools at the drop of the hat. Fortunately Councilman Ross Cunniff was able to think outside the box and found the funding to keep this program going.
I spoke on behalf of CforSE and the Fort Collins Sustainability Group did an excellent job to make sure that Council recognized the importance of this program and overrode staff's recommendation to defund. This is a victory for citizens and council leadership, and it is a red flag about the intentions and/or capabilities of the staff leadership team. We will continue to monitor their activities and hold them accountable to executing the will of the council and the citizens of Fort Collins.