Mountain News: First electric car station in Jackson, Wyo. 

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - Taking charge Jackson Hole, Wyo. recently welcomed its first electric carport. Whistler has eight electric car charging stations, including the one pictured above.
  • File Photo
  • Taking charge Jackson Hole, Wyo. recently welcomed its first electric carport. Whistler has eight electric car charging stations, including the one pictured above.

JACKSON, Wyo. — Jackson Hole has its first charging station for electric cars, with three more planned, But will they benefit the environment — or just provide a way for cheap fuel?

Electric cars are expensive, but electricity itself is always far cheaper than gasoline. The environmental gain depends upon where you plug in.

The Colorado-based Southwest Energy Efficiency Project crunched the numbers and found that even in Colorado, with a significant amount of so-called "clean energy" now on the grid, electric cars don't necessarily represent a net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. That will change, however, as natural gas replaces coal for production of electricity. By 2020, electric cars emerge as winners.

But there's a second environmental metric to consider. Burning gasoline and diesel produces volatile organic chemicals, the precursors for lung-damaging ground-level ozone. In that regard, electric vehicles in Colorado already beat both gasoline and natural-gas fuelled vehicles.

Wyoming? Overall, it gets 95 per cent of power from coal, by far the most of any state. Electric cars don't help in reducing greenhouse gases.

But then, in this, as in so many other ways, Jackson Hole is different from the rest of Wyoming. Most of its power comes from hydroelectric dams. So that makes electric cars a net winner.

New Vaspen bottled 'craft water'

GYPSUM, Colo. — A new bottled water called Vaspen is to be distributed late this year, playing off the names of Vail and Aspen.

The water will come from neither, but rather from springs at Sweetwater Lake, on the Flat Top Mountains. It's 97 kilometres from Vail and 122 kilometres from Aspen.

The Aspen Times reports that SCC Partners Group has raised $6.9 million and hoped to raise an additional $12.5 million at a meeting with potential investors. Steve Miller, a principal in the corporation, says he and partners hope to compete against other high-end waters such as Fiji, Volvic, Perrier, San Pellegrino, and Evian.

Miller told the Times that Americans have been spending $1 billion annually on premium bottled water, and the high-end segment of the market has been the fastest growing. Just as people are looking with greater interest at craft beers, wines, and spirits, "they're moving toward craft water."

The water at Sweetwater isn't really sweet, but rather has a natural alkalinity that gives it a distinctive taste without being overpowering, Miller told the Times. Plus, he said, it provides natural electrolytes to make it appealing to the health conscious.

But sweet, he said, is not a universally accepted flavor, and hence would not be a good brand name.

He and partners bought the Sweetwater Lake Resort in 2004. They have a water decree and can store water. They intend to build a 30,000-square-foot building for their plant, employing 35 workers on site.

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