CEA and Denver Pipefitters host facility site tour, call for balanced and inclusive energy policy

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DENVER, CO – Building on last year’s success, Coloradans for Energy Access and Denver Pipefitters Local 208 were pleased to sponsor a second site tour and panel discussion on November 2nd. Bringing together business, industry and community leaders, the event focused on the importance of balancing innovation, equity, and access in the energy landscape of Colorado. 

On a tour of Local 208’s training facility, attendees saw firsthand how access to natural gas and other renewable sources promotes affordable options for Colorado residents in terms of cooking, heating homes, and powering businesses.  

Comprised of labs and classrooms with mock-up systems – like in-floor radiant heating, natural gas-powered boilers, and both air and ground sourced heat pumps – the facility showcased how complementary natural gas and electric heating technologies not only support high-quality jobs, but keep down consumer costs while playing an innovative role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

Following the tour, Local 208 Business Manager Gary Arnold moderated a panel discussion with Scott Hutchings, Director of Government Affairs for Waste Management; Anthony Trujillo, Secretary-Treasurer at Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 720. During their discussion, the panelists called for continued collaboration and dialogue among stakeholders to ensure a sustainable, equitable, and accessible energy future for all Coloradans. 

Noting that over a million households and over 100,000 businesses in the state depend on natural gas, the panel participants encouraged policymakers to consider preserving access to the fuel as a backup option for electricity. 

We’re not focused on specific equipment. We’re technology neutral. We are here to just tell the story of what it is and make sure that folks have the ability to make informed decisions,” Mr. Arnold said. 

Electrical resistance heat is literally the most inefficient way you could possibly heat a space. That’s not disputable, that’s an outright fact. In my mind, as a pipefitter, I think it makes more sense at a minimum to have natural gas as a backup.”  

LIUNA’s Anthony Trujillo concurred, and argued those making changes to energy policy must ensure the green energy transition doesn’t disproportionately burden vulnerable populations. 

We have members that work in gas distribution, and we’ve got to make sure that they have the opportunity to transition into something else. They rely on this work to support their families,” Trujillo said.

I think that’s what some of the message needs to be. If we’re going to go from A to B, how do we get there and who will be affected by it.”

Waste Management government affairs director Scott Hutchings agreed the debate should not be about choosing one source over the other, but instead center around ensuring reliable and affordable energy. 

We’re looking at electrification, but we’ve got to have a balanced approach moving forward. We’re involved in CEA because we feel that we have to be technology agnostic. For us, electrification is still difficult because it’s a heavier trash truck, and that means we can’t pick up at as many houses,” Hutchings said.

We also have our own greenhouse gas reductions that we’re after, which can be accomplished a lot by CNG, RNG, and LNG. Waste Management’s fleet is the largest heavy duty fleet in the country, and almost 50% of that is Compressed Natural Gas, that’s quieter and that is a greenhouse gas reduction.” 

Coloradans for Energy Access is a broad coalition of businesses, organizations, utilities, and workforce leaders that support access to natural gas in homes and businesses. The November 2 site tour and panel discussion at Denver Pipefitters Local 208 featured a number of stakeholders backing access to a wide range of energy sources, including innovative natural gas technologies that are helping Colorado meet its economic and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

Contact: ColoradansForEnergyAccess@Gmail.com