Mountain News: Aspen’s carbon footprint still growing 

ASPEN, Colo. – For all of its well-documented ambitions, the Aspen Skiing Co. continues to expand its carbon footprint. The latest report from the company shows that the company’s activities at its four ski areas and associated lodging and other properties increased carbon output 4.3 per cent between 2000 and 2006.

This is despite changing out the lights, using biodiesel, buying wind power and two-dozen other measures to either use energy more efficiently or produce energy in ways that don’t involve burning hydrocarbons.

Now, it’s time to advance the conversation, says Auden Schendler, the director for community and environmental responsibility. He and his associate, Matt Hamilton, want to run all company initiatives through what he calls a carbon filter, to see how much greenhouse gas emissions result from a specified business decision.

  For example, what about not trying to open at Thanksgiving, which most years requires extraordinary amounts of electricity to compress air, which is combined with water to make snow. He is also calling for a review of the World Cup ski races in the context of its carbon contributions. Too, they want to know whether the company intends to expand grooming and snowmaking.

Beyond reducing its responsibility for producing greenhouse gas emissions, Aspen also has a financial incentive to reduce its energy use: energy prices are going up. Compared to the overall budget, it’s not that much, but the report says that the cost of natural gas, electricity, and diesel and gasoline more than doubled between 2000 and 2006.

Aspen is also studying the potential for creating electricity by means other than burning coal. One possibility is a wind turbine at Snowmass. The site is gusty, but the company will measure the wind during the next year.

More promising is microhydroelectricity. The company has one such plant at Snowmass, which uses the infrastructure needed to make snow in fall to realize the power of spring runoff to make electricity. The company intends to study potential microhydro plants at its other three ski areas.

As well, Aspen is studying the potential of investing directly in a wind farm. The company’s energy plan will include carbon offsets only as a last resort, reports The Aspen Times.


Turbines, solar collectors planned

VAIL, Colo. – Three years ago Vail Resorts garnered national coverage when it announced the intent of purchasing 152,000 megawatt hours each year in renewable energy certificates for its five resort operations. It was, at the time, the nation’s biggest such purchase of wind-created electricity.

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