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Walsenburg city leaders hear about Transitions

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- Transitions facilitators Walt and Heloise Lynn presented Transitions to city officials last Thursday. The presentation focused on peak oil, a carbonized atmosphere, and rising food costs and offered an outline for a plan that will help ease the stresses of a rapidly changing global environment.
Mayor Bruce Quintana, Interim City Administrator Don Saling, Assistant City Administrator Beth Neece and City Council member Silvana Lind were given the same information that many residents in La Veta have been considering over the past month.
During the course of the powerpoint presentation, city officials offered their views and comments, and asked questions about some of the information they were given, especially in the area of peak oil and the effects it will have on residents of both Walsenburg and Huerfano County.
The mayor and city administration began considering various assets that the city of Walsenburg has along with possible ways those assets could be used to build a future renewable energy grid for the area. However the meeting was for information only and no decisions were or could be made.
Huerfano County is also taking steps to bring in renewables. The working title is the Huerfano County Renewable Energy Project, and it’s currently under study. According to an email from New Centennial Power to Huerfano County, the project overview is “…to provide renewable energy at a competitive rate to San Isabel Electric Association and create value for Huerfano County.” That value creation would bring revenue into the community and create opportunity for economic development.
“Huerfano County is working with San Isabel Electric on the project and they are easy to work with,” said John Galusha, the County Administrator. “We are looking at two sites right now. One is next to the Huerfano River Substation and one is next to the Walsenburg Substation.” Financing for the project could possibly come from New Market Tax Credits which appear to present the best avenue for the Huerfano Renewable Energy Project. Costs for the project are currently ranging anywhere from four and a half cents to 15 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the renewable energy source.
To understand the Transitions energy descent plan and how locally produced renewable energy fits in, it is necessary to imagine the impact on Huerfano County residents when oil prices are closer to $200 a barrel, rather than the current $100 a barrel price.
The Transitions plan takes into consideration many of the problems that will follow rising oil prices. Problems range from skyrocketing food prices to escalating prices on plastics of all kinds. In addition, it will cost more to get to the doctor’s office or the pharmacy or grocery store. Rising costs will eat away at the savings of folks living on a reduced or fixed income.
Transitions is a way to plan for such a time whether that time is a year or two away, or two decades away. Because it calls for community involvement to build all the pieces of the plan, a real and workable solution to the survival of communities can be found by relying on the local knowledge base.
By utilizing local renewable energy sources and eating food produced in the local area, the energy-driven supply chain is shortened and less oil is consumed. According to Heloise Lynn, oil will still be very important. “It is necessary to redirect oil use, from transportation and agriculture, to making plastics that are used in nearly every consumer item and many medical products.”