TNCC: Green power options and carbon offsets

TNCC: Green power options and carbon offsets

by Kris Holstrom

019 It’s mid-summer in Telluride! Nights seem cooler than usual though the days are warm and the monsoons haven’t really materialized. We’ve got fires smoking up our atmosphere and early frosts on nearby mesas. Hmmm. Global weirding once again? The only thing predictable is unpredictability.

For those concerned about global climate issues there are local actions you can take right now.  San Miguel Power has two renewable energy initiatives that fund the Renewable Energy Fund (green fund). All SMPA members (anyone who gets an electric bill) are encouraged to participate in both programs. The amount of money SMPA is able contribute to local renewable energy and energy conservation projects is dependent upon the number of participating members in these programs. So more support for these programs means more support for local renewable energy. Here’s their info on the programs.

Green Blocks: The Green Block allows members to purchase renewable energy credits, called RECs, to offset their monthly energy consumption.  These credits cost $1.00 per 100 kilowatt hours per month. Currently, SMPA has over 450 accounts purchasing at least one Green Block. For every $1.00 collected, 60 cents goes directly into the SMPA renewable energy fund (green fund), which pays rebates to members who install renewable energy systems on their homes or small business. That means your support of renewable energy stays close to home.

Green Cents: The Green Cents program is a simple and easy way for members to raise money to support community renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Members can choose to have their monthly bill rounded up to the nearest dollar. For example, if your bill is $72.37, you’ll pay $73. The ‘rounded up’ portion goes directly into the renewable energy fund, which is used for the development of renewable energy and conservation programs within SMPA’s service territory. In addition to rounding up their bill, members can add extra dollars to their contribution to the Renewable Energy Fund. For example, if your bill is $72.37 and you choose to round up plus add an additional $5 contribution, you will be charged $78, with $5.29 going directly to the Renewable Energy Fund.  On average, members will spend less than $7 a year if they choose to only round up their bill. They may cancel participation at any time.

 To participate in either renewable energy initiative, call SMPA at  626-5549. Members can also join online at

So that’s the skinny on offsetting your local electrical use. What about driving, flying and other energy uses? If you’re interested in verifiable offsets – ones that guarantee that you are purchasing an offset that has been measured and monitored to a high standard you can do so through the Colorado Carbon Fund. This program was started by the Governor’s Energy Office and is in partnership with Climate Trust (they do the verification). The nice part about the CCF is that all the money raised will be spent in Colorado AND 20% of the funds coming from a given locale will go back to that region for local projects. For more information about the Colorado Carbon Fund check out

Last but not least if you want to donate to only local projects The New Community Coalition’s Green Fund may be your choice. We recommend using SMPA’s programs for your electricity, CCF for verifiable offsets, and us for everything else. The TNCC Green Fund accumulates funds then picks a local project to complete. Our first project happened with significant funding from Mountain Village and consisted of putting 10 solar PV panels on the Telluride High School.

For more information about any of these programs please call TNCC at 728-1340 or email

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