July 7, 2006Page 2
Ford’s pushing hybrids inDenver
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The folks from the blue ovalstopped by this week to tout theirnew hybrid SUV. Ford bigwigs were in town to talk to MayorHickenlooper and pitch the FordEscape Hybrid as a vehicle for taxifleets. The Escape, like most currenthybrids, marries a conventionalengine to an electric motor thatis charged through regenerativebraking – in other words, whileslowing down,braking effortcharges a bat-tery.In prac-tice, with theEscape, theprocess ishardly notice-able. TheEscape hasgot more thansufficient pick-up – it mergedonto I-70 inmoderately heavy traf-fic with plen-ty of alacrity – and it’s smooth. The transmission is not sharp,and engine revs seem somewhatdecoupled from road speed, but if you aren’t used to a sharp sportscar with a manual transmission, you may never notice.You also won’t notice the extra weight of the battery and electricmotor in handling. The Escape, while no road-going scalpel, han-dles well enough, and the suspen-sion belies its price point.On the whole, we were happy the folks from Detroit dropped by to say hi. The Escape, especially with the tax credits for hybridvehicles, would make a great mid-size SUV for Colorado drivers,particularly those spending a lotof time in the city. Like its regen-erative hybrid cohorts, the Escapegets better mileage in stop and gocity driving than in highway cruis-ing. If you avoid getting on the gasin stop and go traffic, you can useclose to no gasat all! The Fordfolks says thatthe extended warranty on thebattery takesalmost all the worry out of embracing thisleading edgetransportationtechnology.Ford deserveskudos for tak-ing a greenerroad amongAmerican automakers.
More facts: The Escape Hybrid isexpected to be the world’s cleanest,most fuel-efficient SUV, able to travelbetween 35 and 40 miles — more thana 75 percent improvement over theconventional Escape — in stop-and-go city driving. The Escape Hybrid will provide a 50% metro-highwaycombined fuel economy improvementover a conventional Escape. On thehighway, Escape Hybrid gets 30 mpgand its 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engineand electric traction motor can teamup to produce acceleration perfor-mance similar to the V-6 Escape.
Can an emphasis on energyconservation have a major eco-nomic impact and bring more jobs to the region? The MetroDenver Economic DevelopmentCorporation argues affirmatively,in a new report that area busi-nesses can create more jobs andincrease their bottom lines with just such an approach. The Metro Denver EconomicDevelopment Corporation (MetroDenver EDC) has completed areport that suggests investmentsand low-cost efforts that MetroDenver businesses can make toconserve energy and boost theirbottom lines. Prepared for MetroDenver EDC by the Colorado EnergyScience Center, “Energy Efficiency:Bottom Line Opportunities forMetro Denver Companies” offersconcrete evidence of cost-savingefficiency upgrades and return-on-investment. The Metro Denver EDC, along with the Economist magazine,hosted a recent forum on the grow-ing cost and tight supply of energy. The panel discussion, “Can theWorld End Its Addiction to Oil?,”included Vijay Vaitheeswaran,Economist energy correspon-dent, NREL Director Dan Arvizu,Western Gas president PeterDea, and Aspen Skiing’s AudenSchendler. Though the discussionseemed to underplay the climatethreat, potential scarcity of oil andthe geopolitical security risks thatmark many conversations aboutenergy, the coming changes in the way Americans get and consumeenergy were broadly accepted.“Instead of imposing regula-tory solutions to our energy chal-lenges, this report shows solid,market-based evidence that MetroDenver businesses can save moneyand add predictability by invest-ing in energy-efficient upgrades,”said Tom Clark, Executive VicePresident of Metro Denver EDC.“This study is a crucial aspect of our ongoing strategy to marketMetro Denver as the ‘BalancedEnergy Capital of the West.’” The Metro Denver EDC seeks toposition Denver within a triad of energy — home to a large naturalgas production region, locus of renewable and alternative energydevelopment, and a place where aregion-wide focus on conservationcan improve the economy. The report focuses mainly onthe commercial business sector, which is where Metro Denver EDCfound that its analysis and even-tual results could have the great-est impact on the overall areaeconomy. The report argues thatevidence shows how office andretail-based businesses can investin energy-saving strategies fortangible payback. For example,replacing lighting fixtures withhigh-efficiency ballasts and bulbscan drop costs 20 to 45 per-cent, according to the analysis. The report also outlines federaltax credits and rebates from XcelEnergy that businesses and build-ing owners can use to their advan-tage. Finally, the analysis alsosuggests a voluntary efficiency ini-tiative that aims to drive demandfor efficient buildings and energysavings in the future.“This analysis supports the ideathat conservation, fossil fuels andrenewable energy resources rep-resent each leg of a ‘three leggedstool’ of energy components, andeach element is equally important,”said Peter Dea, Chair of the MetroDenver EDC’s Energy Committeeand Western Gas Resources presi-dent & CEO. “Applying the piecesof this initiative is more than asmart investment; it’s a sustain-able and responsible choice thatcan help Metro Denver’s economygrow and profit.”One case study outlinedupgrades at Denver Place’s Northand South Towers, where a $1.35million energy retrofit was imple-mented in 1996. Upgrades includ-ed gas-fired boilers, switching toelectronic – rather than magnetic – fluorescent bulbs, adjusting cool-ing systems, and more. Currently,the building saves $300,000 annu-ally on energy costs, representinga 20 percent return on investmentand enabling energy savings tohelp pay for the investment inabout three years.In addition to some of the morecapital-intensive upgrades, thereport outlines ways any busi-ness can reduce energy costs withlittle or no investment: turningoff office lights and equipment at
see REPORT on page 9
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Energy efficiency can helpDenver's bottom line