October 15, 2019

Golden and NREL Featured on CNN (Sat. at 1pm)

Three two Golden residents (including Barb Warden, who runs the terrific Golden.com web site) are featured in the story, which is running as part of the regular news cycle but unpredictably. We do think it’ll be part of the In Focus show, which is scheduled to run Saturday at 1 p.m. You can also watch the segment on the CNN web site.

Flipping the Switch on Another New Turbine

If you know what you are looking for, NREL’s Wind Technology Center is a pretty exciting place.  New wind turbine designs are tested in their very impressive (and large) laboratory facilities, and turbines are installed and tested “in the field” as well to see how they perform under the particularly challenging real-world conditions of that site.  Back in September, I posted a very cool time-lapse video of new turbine installation that a neighbor sent me.  This month, our mayor pro-tem Karen Oxman had the opportunity to participate in the commissioning of another new turbine.  This one is even larger (262′ tower, 331′ diameter rotor) and produces even more power (2.3 MW).  It’s one of the largest land-based turbines in the U.S.  Karen took this photo during the commissioning ceremony led by Governor Ritter.

Karen's NREL WTC photo

Wind gusts at the Wind Technology Center north of Golden hit 140 mph. Although wind on the site is too erratic for reliable energy production, it's a great location for testing new turbine designs.

Video: New 1.5 MW Turbine at NREL

Here is a very cool time lapse video of the installation of a new 1.5 MW turbine at the NREL National Wind Technology Center.  Hat tip to Tim Rehder for the link.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf-Q1wyowWc&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&feature=player_profilepage&fs=1]

Jacob’s Golden Update: All-Ward Town Hall Meeting on May 5

Jacob’s Golden Update: May 4, 2009

1. All-Ward Town Hall Meeting: May 5
2. North Neighborhoods Plan Adopted
3. Two Historic Preservation Projects Moving Forward
4. Golden Hills and Golden Heights Neighborhoods Receive Xcel Grant for Energy Efficiency
5. Golden’s First Community Accountability Report
6. NREL Scores Big
7. Golden Visitors Center Wins Prestigious Volunteerism Award
8. City of Golden First Quarter Financial Report
9. City Council Eliminates Ethics Code and Campaign Finance Loopholes
10. Blog Round Up
11. Other Upcoming Events
12. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, May 7

[Read more…]

Jacob's Golden Update: All-Ward Town Hall Meeting on May 5

Jacob’s Golden Update: May 4, 2009

1. All-Ward Town Hall Meeting: May 5
2. North Neighborhoods Plan Adopted
3. Two Historic Preservation Projects Moving Forward
4. Golden Hills and Golden Heights Neighborhoods Receive Xcel Grant for Energy Efficiency
5. Golden’s First Community Accountability Report
6. NREL Scores Big
7. Golden Visitors Center Wins Prestigious Volunteerism Award
8. City of Golden First Quarter Financial Report
9. City Council Eliminates Ethics Code and Campaign Finance Loopholes
10. Blog Round Up
11. Other Upcoming Events
12. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, May 7

[Read more…]

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Last month Councilor Bill Fisher and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent Golden at the Annual Congressional Conference of the National League of Cities.  Bill posted a nice write-up about our trip.  I’ll just add a few more thoughts here.

We focused on three things:

1) Meeting with members of the Colorado Congressional delegation. It is possible to meet with our Senators and Congressman here in Colorado, but it’s usually easier to schedule those meetings in D.C. and, more importantly, it gives us a chance to meet with their key D.C.-based staff, many of whom play critical decision-making roles in those offices.  In our meetings, we emphasized the importance of continued federal support for Colorado School of Mines, NREL, and completing the buildout of the FasTracks transit system.  We talked about the stimulus package and making sure the funding actually gets into the economy as quickly as possible.  Some of this is about ensuring good accountability measures to make sure the money is spent in the way that Congress and the President intended, and some of this is about making sure the processes are streamlined enough that the funding doesn’t get stuck in bureaucratic roadblocks.  If those dollars are going to be useful, they need to get out into communities, creating jobs, and promoting renewable energy and other good projects.  Finally, we talked a bit about issues more directly affecting Golden, including the beltway.

2) Conference panels and keynote sessions. I attended presentations by a range of folks including the new Secretary of Energy, the new director of the Environmental Protection Agency, the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the new Attorney General, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine.  I also attended a presentation by and had a chance to meet Cecelia Munoz, the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Administration’s link to local governments around the country.  I attended panel presentations on the federal stimulus package, on sustaining strong relationships between schools and cities, and other issues.

The punch line: the mood among these top political leaders and in D.C. generally is very different than it has been for the past several years.  The rhetoric feels more pragmatic and less ideological, and there is a palpable sense of both anxiety about the recession and an optimism and energy that I’ve never experienced in D.C. before.  Time will tell what all of this means.

3) Conversations with mayors and city councilors from other communities across the country. I had opportunities to meet and talk with elected representatives from communities all over the country, sharing notes on our respective economic situations, economic vitality strategies, sustainability efforts, and other issues.  In the past year or two we’ve been trying some new things here in Golden: new ways of listening to the concerns and ideas of community members, new opportunities for community members to get involved in important city decision-making, our ambitious Sustainability Initiative.  We are clearly comfortable trying new things here in Golden, knowing that sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but I’m also a fan of learning everything we can from the experiences other communities so we can try to avoid some of the pitfalls and take advantage of things that other folks have tried that have worked.  Opportunities like this to hear about lots of communities’ experiences with improving government transparency and accountability, promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, encouraging more and better public involvement in community decisions . . . it’s very educational and very helpful to me in continuously doing a better job as Golden’s mayor.

One other note: There are many, many communities across the country that are really struggling with steep budget cuts, layoffs, ending community programs, and reducing city services.  Their struggles definitely help put our own situation in perspective: the city’s cash reserves are very strong, our infrastructure is in very good shape, and we have budgeted conservatively enough that we are in a good position to weather the storm.  We have tightened spending and won’t be able to do everything we’d like to do, but we are in excellent shape compared to many communities around the country.

As Bill can attest, we work hard when we are in D.C. representing Golden: we filled the schedule with Congressional delegation meetings, conference events, and other opportunities to share lessons and experiences.  This conference and others like it provide important opportunities to represent Golden with our Congressional delegation and for members of the City Council to continuously improve as elected representatives.

NREL Records Record Ozone Pollution

Readings at the NREL air quality monitoring station peaked at 94 ppb (the standard is 80), the highest ozone reading recorded so far this summer. The NREL station is the closest to Golden, and I don’t know if levels are likely to be higher or lower down in our small valley (are there any air quality experts out there that can answer this?), but it seems like bad news for Golden any way you look at it.

As we continue to violate air quality standards in the Denver area, Denver continues to run the risk of going back into “non-attainment” on ozone pollution, which could have significant repercussions for things like federal transportation dollars (if you think we don’t have enough money to meet our transportation needs now, just wait until we go back into non-attainment).

The sources of this pollution: some mixture of automobiles, oil and gas drilling, agriculture, other industrial emissions, and perhaps other sources as well. One particularly contentious source is oil and gas drilling, especially in the eastern plains counties like Weld. Industry has aggressively argued that they aren’t making a significant contribution, and the Environmental Protection Agency started using infrared cameras to figure it out.

That sparked the ire of Oklahoma Senator Inhofe, who criticized the EPA for using this innovate and improved pollution detection method. It was refreshing to see the Rocky Mountain News editorial yesterday chastising Senator Inhofe for his nonsensical attack:

Who could possibly object to better methods of collecting data on air emissions? The U.S. senator who chairs the committee that handles environmental issues has, and that’s disturbing . . .

After a News story published June 20 revealed that federal environmental regulators were using infrared cameras to view heretofore invisible emissions from gas and oil wells in Adams and Weld counties, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., fired off a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency demanding an explanation.

Inhofe’s letter said the filming process – which recorded emissions from pipelines, valves and storage tanks – threatened the “trust” between the EPA and the oil and gas industry.

Presumably Senator Inhofe is angry that the EPA is using improved technologies for detecting air pollution because he’s concerned that his oil and gas company supporters might not be able to continue claiming that they have little to do with increasing ozone pollution in Golden and elsewhere in Colorado. Hats off to the Rocky for speaking out.

Incidentally, you can track today’s air pollution levels at the state’s Air Quality Index web site. You can also review the air pollution levels over any specific time period at any monitoring site (including Golden’s).

Golden in the News: Renewable Energy and the City Shops

I've been working with folks on our city staff, the Environmental Protection Agency, NREL, and our architect over the last couple of months to figure out how to integrate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies into the design of our new city shops project. Today's Denver Post has a really supportive column about some of those efforts.

I also noticed that the Colorado Fuel Cell Center celebrated its grand opening this week. The Center – located on the CSM campus in Golden – is a project of the Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation, the Gas Technology Institute, the Colorado School of Mines, Versa Power Systems, Inc., and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.