'In the Know' Articles



In the Know: Identifying tips and practices for a more sustainable future


Colorado college town's mayor, city council and utility focus on combating climate change

Fort Collins (pop. 155,400) aspires to be carbon neutral by 2050

The costly destruction caused by recent wildfires and floods has highlighted Colorado’s vulnerability to climate change and inspired action in Fort Collins.

Karen Weitkunat, Fort Collins’ mayor since 2011, served on the President's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, created in 2013 to advise the Obama Administration on how the Federal Government can support communities dealing with the impacts of climate change. And in March 2015, the seven-member city council of Fort Collins unanimously adopted some of the most aggressive goals in the nation to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions: 20 percent below 2005 by 2020, 80 percent by 2030, and carbon neutral by 2050.

The council members adopted the updated community greenhouse gas goals based on a 2015 Climate Action Plan Framework document developed with a Citizen Advisory Committee after multiple work sessions and public forums over nine months. The framework document features 11 strategies – such as adopting multimodal transport and advancing utility-scale renewable energy – which will require financial investments in clean technology and infrastructure upgrades.

More than half of Fort Collins’ emissions come from power production, primarily electricity generated from coal. But the Platte River Power Authority, which powers the city, is co-owned by Fort Collins and three nearby cities – Estes Park, Longmont and Loveland – giving the collective cities the ability to transition to renewable sources of energy generation managed by the Authority.

Very preliminary cost estimates suggest it could cost up to $600 million by 2020 and between $3.4 billion and $4.6 billion by 2050 to implement the framework plan. But by 2050, the very preliminary estimates of energy and fuel savings range from $5 to $10.8 billion.  These rough cost estimates will be revised as plan implementation details are further developed.

For additional information:
Lucinda Smith
City of Fort Collins Environmental Services Director

Lisa Rosintoski
Fort Collins Utilities Customer Connections Manager