With the rising cost of energy, Denver South’s June partnership meeting on the energy transformation and its impact on Denver South was both timely and relevant. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from three thought leaders in the energy industry, and got a glimpse at how local utilities are supporting both businesses and residents in proactively preparing for future energy needs.

Stephanie Henley, Corporate Economic Development Manager for Xcel Energy, provided an overview of Xcel Energy’s Corporate Economic Development team, whose goal is to resource both existing and prospective businesses to ensure Denver South—and Xcel Energy’s service area—is a desirable and competitive spot to do business. Henley and her team know, by supporting the area’s employers, they can spur job growth and capital investment generation in the region, which benefits all who live and work in their service territory. Services offered to businesses span a wide range of offerings, from rebate programs for energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems to bill credits for companies that defer energy usage during peak periods. Xcel also created an Economic Development Rate for companies who are opening or expanding operations in the area, which allows qualified job creators to receive tiered discounts on electricity. Perhaps the most unique way Xcel engages in economic development, however, is through its Certified Site program. Through this program Xcel vets both greenfield sites and ready buildings based on key property attributes, including electrical setup, and certifies sites based on their ability to meet certain criteria. These certified sites can then be selectively presented to companies with specific electrical needs as they consider expansion opportunities. By providing vetted, actionable information to prospective businesses, Xcel is seeking to make the growth and expansion process in the region as easy and seamless as possible.

Zach Owens, Product Portfolio Manager for Xcel Energy, continued the presentation by highlighting Xcel’s work with electric vehicles (EVs). Xcel’s goal is to have 1.5 million EVs on the road within its service area by 2030; Owens recognizes, however, this cannot be accomplished without supporting area businesses and residents in this transition. To encourage and aid EV adoption Xcel has created a slew of residential and commercial programs. On the residential side Xcel offers EV and home wiring rebates, along with off-peak charging incentives; commercially, Xcel is offering a range of incentives including rebates for charging port construction, incentives for installing chargers on commercial property, and advisory services on fleet electrification projects. Regardless of the initiative, Xcel offers a dedicated EV advisor to any commercial client who is pursuing an EV initiative, so that customers feel comfortable at every point of the journey.

Rob Osborn, Director of Business Development for CORE Electric Cooperative, kicked off the final presentation of the day by highlighting why electricity generation is a critical component of economic development. Without reliable energy, any region would be unable to sustain economic growth; this growth is important in keeping energy costs down for all customers. Energy users pay not just for the energy used, but also for the infrastructure that generates and distributes electricity to users. As more people pay in, the overhead cost per person is lower; lower rates in turn help to draw and retain businesses in the region. Rates, however, are only one consideration; in the world of economic development, relationships are equally important. As a cooperative utility, CORE works directly with its member/owners; it therefore recognizes its role in helping customers identify their needs and limitations, as well as assisting them in navigating financing and grant opportunities. A case study of this is the EPA Clean School Bus Program, which provides incentives to school districts that replace diesel-powered buses with electric models. CORE engaged the Douglas County School District and Blue Bird Bus to identify fleet replacement needs, locate and design charging stations, assist with grant applications, and identify financing options in order to help the school district take advantage of this federal program. In doing this, CORE was able to provide value beyond energy generation, and empowered one of its clients to take their next step in this ongoing energy transformation.

We hope you are able to join us at our next Partnership Meeting August 4th at the Lone Tree Arts Center, where we will discuss New Buildings and Employers in Denver South. You can register for the August meeting here.

Slide decks for each presenter can be found below: