Renewable Energy in Fort Collins

Fort Collins, Colo.

Fort Collins: it’s one of those cities that has a small town feel, but it also has big goals for renewable energies. In fact, Fort Collins has its sights set on being carbon neutral by 2050. And, we’ve got the resources to do it. Our often windy, yet blue-sky city is home to an almost unparalleled amount of energy companies focused on using and harnessing the resources we have to propel our lives and futures with renewable energy.

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale, and can include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. It often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

2015 was a record year for renewable energy technology all over the map. The Renewables 2016 Global Status Report indicates, “The year 2015 was an extraordinary one for renewable energy, with the largest global capacity additions seen to date.” Fort Collins is no exception, with a remarkable, tireless ability to harness and foster renewable energy resources.

FoCo has sun. And wind.  With over 300 days of sunlight and year, and enough hairstyle-ruining days to provide energy to our homes, we are a mecca of renewable energy industry.  Our windy future is so bright, AND we get to wear shades.

Renewable Energy in Fort Collins—3 ways YOU can support it

Have you heard about the Green Energy program?

Residents and businesses in Fort Collins can purchase clean, renewable energy for an additional 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Just head to Fort Collins Utilities’ website. Once there, fill out the residential or commercial agreement forms, and fax or mail it to Utilities. That’s it!  You’ll be doing your part to support renewable energy in Fort Collins.  The purchase of RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) helps offset conventional electricity generation in the region where the renewable electricity generator is located. The purchase also helps build a market for renewable electricity and may have other local and global environmental benefits such as reducing global climate change and regional air pollution.

Go solar.

Do you know what the word “Photovoltaics” means? Photovoltaics (PV) is the process by which sunlight is converted into electricity. More than just “sun good, coal bad,” the idea of taking your home or company solar, or supporting companies who promote PV is a choice many residents of Fort Collins are making.  Globally, the solar PV market was up 25% in 2015, lifting the global total to 227 gigawatts (GW). The annual market in 2015 was nearly 10 times the world’s cumulative solar PV capacity of a decade earlier. In 2015, Fort Collins online PV capacity tripled.

Promoting clean, renewable energy

Many companies are on the renewable energy cheering team.  They back up their ‘green promises’ with their green dollars and ensure their businesses run clean – on renewable energy. One way to do that is through ClimateWise – the city’s free, voluntary program for businesses. It encourages members to adopt strategies that are proven to use energy, land, and water more efficiently, while reducing greenhouse gases. On top of that, it can help lower the businesses’ operating costs!

Fort Collins’ big goals for renewable energy set our city well ahead of most others. If you’d like to do your part to help Fort Collins achieve those goals, visit the ‘Renewables’ section of the Utilities website. What’s your favorite program that helps you save money and energy? Let us know if the comments section!

How to Read Your Utility Bill

Woman reading utility bill

Your bill from Fort Collins Utilities contains all kinds of detail that may make it difficult to understand. Here are a few pro-tips for making your utility bill work for you:

  1. Residential energy rates can vary based on the season (summer vs non-summer) and on a customer’s electric use. Electricity costs per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and usage are calculated based on tiers. There is always a fixed charge or a ‘base charge' per month.   If your bill seems higher than normal, check with your utility provider.
  2. Monitor My Use: Check out the electric costs details view. Once you login, you can click on the ‘details’ button under Electric. The screen will show you a bar graph with your daily use, and you can toggle this view to show you one day, one bill period, or one whole year. You can also toggle on the weather temperature to see if your cooling and heating costs might be contributing to spikes in your energy usage. I noticed when I looked at my bill that the spikes (when I hovered my mouse over them) all occurred on Sundays.  Sunday is laundry day and the day we tend to run the dryer a lot. A sudden temperature spike also revealed the day I plugged in the window air conditioning unit.
  3. Pay less for wastewater (WQA – winter quarter average) year-round. Did you know residential wastewater charges are based on the average water billed during January, February, and March? These months represent true indoor use and indicate the amount of water that ends up in the wastewater system. By conserving water during these months, you can reduce your WQA and pay less for wastewater year-round.

Don’t know how to read your energy bill right now? No problem! Follow these tips and tricks when you get your next energy bill to see if you can better understand your bill. And, you may even be able to figure out how to cut your energy use!

Do you have any other tips for reading your energy bill? Let us know in the comments!