Mountain News: Telluride holds firm on new energy code 

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Telluride in the last decade has twice taken very ambitious vows, pledging to reduce its carbon footprint as a community. Now, it's groping through the hard work of concrete action that will be necessary if the community has any hope, however faint, of achieving those great ambitions.

The first vow came circa 2005, with a sign-on to the Mayors' Agreement on Climate Change. That agreement specifies that communities will work to reduce their carbon emissions seven per cent below 1990 levels - by 2012. With the possible exception of Seattle and perhaps several others, it now appears that few of the more than 1,000 towns and cities that signed on will achieve that target .

Then, in 2009, Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser announced a goal of becoming carbon neutral in its electrical supply by 2020. He said improving energy efficiency was an important first step.

But the devil is in the details. After a half-dozen public meetings in the last year, the council reviewed a proposal to substantially tighten the community energy code. Following a model first created in Aspen a decade ago and then copied with revisions in the Eagle/Vail, Crested Butte and other areas, it creates a penalty for what is considered profligate energy use, such as for big houses, snowmelt systems, and outdoor tubs.

The Telluride Watch reports angry denunciations at a recent meeting. "You're driving your building costs up very substantially," said a builder. "Let's just make it so your average millionaire can't even build a house here," he said.

A hot tub vendor advocated the banning of heated sidewalks instead, which he said would achieve the same level of reductions.

A minority of council members wanted to delay action, to allow additional time for discussion with builders.

But the majority of council members voted to proceed immediately in adopting the energy/green building code. They also scrapped some exemptions that had been recommended.

"If Telluride really wants to reduce its carbon footprint like it says it does, it's time to stop making excuses and to begin reining in its energy use - even if it means higher costs or less convenience," said the Watch in summarizing the majority opinion.


Whitefish doing fine

WHITEFISH, Mont. - Once known as Big Mountain, the Whitefish Mountain Resort had another big year last winter. At 122,000 skier days, it's no rival to a Whistler or Breckenridge. But financially, it was a hit, reports the chief executive, Dan Graves.

Graves told the Whitefish Pilot that the ski area made money for the third straight year and cut its $8 million debt in half.

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