Mountain News: 

Saving energy to improve economy

BANFF, Alberta — Banff’s council is being urged to make a major investment in energy savings, one way of improving the economy.

A 2000 audit showed the community spending $50 million in energy – all of it money that leaves Banff, points out Chip Olver, a councilwoman. Especially with costs of energy rising, improving energy conservation means that residents will save money. It also could reduce the need for a major expense of a new, larger-capacity electrical transformer.

A report last year showed that energy consumption in Banff rose 32 per cent from 1990 and 2000, far outpacing the growth in population. Commercial and transportation sectors were the biggest users of energy.

One idea being proposed is to hire or contract with an energy advisor to work with businesses interested in reducing energy consumption.

Vail still studying wind energy

VAIL, Colo. —Vail Resorts is still studying the potential of installing wind turbines atop Vail Mountain to generate the electricity needed to operate three ski lifts.

The company, which already is a major purchaser of wind power from Holy Cross Electric, began pursuing the idea in 2003. An environmental assessment shows no major problems, despite some minor concerns about effects on birds and the visual impact of additional fixtures on the ridge. Elevation of the ridge is about 10,000 feet, or more than two thirds of the way up the ski mountain.

The next year or two will be spent studying how environmentally and economically sound the idea is. Preliminary estimates pegged the payback at 10 years.

A cap in Canmore?

CANMORE, Alberta — That delicate balance between growth and stagnation came up in Canmore recently after tourism expert Ted Manning suggested that Canmore could cap the number of tourists it admits into town in an effort to protect the very assets that draw in visits.

But John Samms, director of Tourism Canmore, said there’s no need to talk like that. "In terms of occupancies, they’re climbing and daily rates (cost of renting per room) are climbing, but we’re a long way from pushing or burgeoning out what’s available," he told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Samms further warned town officials against falling into a culture of fear. What he meant by that was not evident.

Fewer but bigger jets

ASPEN, Colo. — In a trend that seems to parallel real estate and many others, there are fewer private jets flying in and out of Aspen’s airport, called Sardy Field, but the fewer ones are guzzling more gas.

That’s the upshot from a story in The Aspen Times, which reviewed changes upon the recent sale of the fixed-base operation. The newspaper said that almost 37,000 planes landed and took off in 1990, compared to 30,000 in 2001. However, the amount of fuel sold by the FBO increased significantly, because the bigger planes use a lot more fuel.

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