The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “GeoPowering the West” initiative makes its debut on Colorado’s Western Slope at a conference beginning tomorrow at the headquarters of Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA). Local, regional and national experts will highlight the growing potential of the earth’s energy to enhance local economies and strengthen our nation’s energy security while minimizing environmental impact.Montrose, Colorado – September 17, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “The U.S. Department of Energy’s ‘GeoPowering the West’ Initiative hopes to dramatically increase the use of geothermal energy in the western United States by promoting environmentally compatible heat and power along with industrial growth and economic development,” said Ward Huffman of the U.S. DOE’s Denver Office. Achieving the goals of the “GeoPowering the West” Initiative would mean US$50 billion in capital investment in the western states over 20 years; $500 million in new income for western landowners over 20 years; and 20 million tons of atmospheric carbon displaced in 2020, according to DOE estimates. “Geothermal energy is one of the most under-exploited natural energy sources known,” said Joe Lambert, Program Manager in the Colorado Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation, moderator of the conference. “We should pursue the many already commercially viable applications of geothermal energy. Our office is pleased to co-sponsor this event and expand awareness of geothermal energy’s potential to improve Colorado’s economy, environment, and future.” One of the ways the earth’s energy is already improving Colorado’s environment and economy is through “GeoExchange” technology, which uses the constant temperature of the earth to help heat and cool buildings. Homes, commercial buildings, and even schools are using renewable earth energy to provide year round comfort less expensively than with conventional systems. “Tri-State strongly supports the use of GeoExchange systems by offering financial rebates which reduce the systems’ up front costs,” said Mark McGahey, Marketing Manager of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which supplies electricity to 44 electric distribution cooperatives in the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico. “In addition to our rebate program, Tri-State hosts training sessions for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning contractors on an ongoing basis and co-sponsors educational forums such as the ‘GeoPowering the West’ seminar at DMEA.” “Tri-State’s rebates play a key role in making GeoExchange systems affordable,” said Steve Metheny, DMEA’s Chief Operating Manager. “To make GeoExchange systems more affordable for the retrofit market, DMEA created our ‘Co-Z Energy Plan’ that offers our members 100 percent financing and ongoing maintenance and repair. With these programs, our preferred installation partner, InterMountain Energy, is putting in a record number of GeoExchange systems this year.” Bill Golove of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the national coordinator of the Public Renewables Partnership addresses “Renewable Energy and Price Risk Mitigation” at 1:30. Michael Penny, City Manager of Ouray, CO, speaks at 2:00 on “GeoPowering Cities.” At 2:30 Brent Berkey of InlandSea, Ltd. presents “GeoPowering Agriculture.” Van Bourne of Climatemaster explains “GeoPowering Housing Subdivisions” at 3:15. Bernell Loveridge of the State of Utah Energy Office and Steve Metheny of DMEA discuss program and policy initiatives to promote GeoExchange system use from 4:15-5:00 p.m. when the seminar adjourns. An evening session is open to the general public for free from 7-8 p.m. for an overview of the day’s topics. On Friday, a panel of GeoExchange systems used in schools and commercial buildings features Thomas Hernandez, Energy Manager of Colorado School District 11, Peggy Plate of the Western Area Power Administration and Trey Austin of EMC Engineers. On Friday afternoon there will be a tour of local businesses using or installing GeoExchange systems including Alpine Bank, Olathe State Bank, the Holy Guardian Angels Catholic School, DMEA’s Montrose Building and the Ouray Visitor Center.