...And a lot more action! Is what we need from the City of Fort Collins. The businesses and citizens continue to lead with action. Unfortunately the public sector is lagging behind. We hear great words, goals, and plans from our City leadership but the action is still lacking. Not that the City is doing nothing. They recently hired an inspector to go through construction permit paperwork to make sure that builders are following the rules. The rebates for commercial efficiency are helping local businesses save money and energy. But we could be, and need to be, doing a lot better.
The talk from leadership demonstrates that they understand the related problems and solutions in our local energy sector. They tend to pat themselves on the back a lot but they don't talk about the failings and opportunities for improvement within the system. This manifests in poor execution of good intention. One example is the On-Bill Financing (OBF) program that CforSE lobbied so hard and long for. Fort Collins Utilities recently decided to effectively end the program before they even implemented it for renters and lower income home-owners. City leadership doesn't want to talk about this.
FCU's assistance programs are mostly used by people earning greater than the Area Median Income. 7% of your electric bill goes to these programs. The result is that renters and low income home-owners are subsidizing programs that are not practically available to them. The poor are subsidizing the rich. One local building scientist claims that the City is spending 4 times what they need to and getting less than half the desired result. We are spending the people's money making some already pretty good houses a little bit more efficient when we could be spending the same amount of money making really bad houses a lot more efficient. City leadership has not added this to their bragging points.
The Climate Action Plan is a joke. Staff did such a poor job communicating what it is that everyone thinks it comes with a $200 million price tag. Communication is the least of the problems. They study and talk and spend and study and talk and spend. One example is the council approved idea to spend $50,000 studying the feasibility of generating power by burning the Ash trees that are expected to die in the next few years in town. This is an idea that has been proven unfeasible in several better markets. The furnace itself would cost millions of dollars. What do we do with it once all the Ash trees are burned, if they even die to begin with? Most of the Climate Action Plan expense comes from hiring more staff and/or promoting from within without demonstrating results or competency. City leadership doesn't want to talk about that either.
It is beginning to appear that a local non-profit made up of our talented and proven leaders in the business and civic community could do a much better job than our government can do for much less money. I am currently researching this idea and it may become a longer term strategy for CforSE. Stay tuned!