eLab Accelerator 2014

Lafayette Clean Energy

Project Objective

Establish clean energy investment options from voter-allocated municipal tax revenues from the utility franchise fee

Project Team Members

Kent Brown, Member, Lafayette Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee (LESAC), LinkedIn
Tom Dowling, City Councilor, City of Lafayette, LinkedIn
Gary Klaphake, City Administrator, City of Lafayette, LinkedIn
Robb Menzies, Community Advocate, Lafayette’s Energy Future Org, LinkedIn
Susan Perkins, Managing Member, Perkins Energy Law, LinkedIn

Project Description

In November 2013, citizens of Lafayette, CO voted to direct revenues collected from the existing utility franchise fee to clean energy development in the city. This funding would come from a “Utility Occupation Tax” to replace the current franchise fee of 3% of utility bills levied on customers, or $720,000 in the first year. Occupation tax revenues would be targeted for investment in energy efficiency programs and renewable generation projects including solar development within the city. Due to a competing ballot measure, however, occupation tax revenues were not secured and the City of Lafayette, with local citizens, is now reviewing options for energy investment in the city. At eLab Accelerator, a team of community stakeholders including Lafayette city government officials and local renewable energy advocates will review options for clean energy development in Lafayette in light of the competing ballot measures passed last year. Existing energy programs and strategies for clean energy expansion will be reviewed, including options for creatively leveraging investments and program designs to achieve energy goals while maintaining municipal services.

Progress Made to Date (pre-Accelerator)

Lafayette adopted a sustainable energy master plan in 2009. The plan contains six overarching objectives: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 Promote energy conservation Promote clean renewable energy generation Encourage economic development through local energy jobs Reduce energy costs through reduced energy consumption Develop and support sustainable energy education Community supporters of the citizens’ initiative are now urging the City Council to pass an ordinance to secure the funding for clean energy investment. In February, City Council voted to make funding of local energy efficiency and renewable energy investments one of the City’s top considerations for the 2015 budget year. In support of this activity, Lafayette and neighboring communities have organized a series of workshops to review clean energy planning and activity in the region. Additionally, a working group is being formed by the Lafayette Energy Future citizens’ initiative to guide the vision for the expected EE/RE energy investments. The workgroup’s premise is to review the question of: How can communities invest citizens’ energy taxes in a way that maximizes climate change mitigation?

Post-Accelerator Outcomes

At Accelerator, the team reviewed program options for clean energy development in Lafayette and forged consensus on the need to balance city budget priorities. With guidance from eLab faculty, the team developed a joint strategy for community engagement to establish an ambitious community clean energy goal—to exceed the existing 20% greenhouse gas reduction goal. Following Accelerator, team members are collaborating to write an RFP for a community energy study and opportunity assessment, and have presented outcomes from Accelerator at a May 2014 community energy workshop. Work is underway with key stakeholders to advance the effort to establish a new GHG reduction goal and to develop new clean energy programs in the city.