Mountain News 

Aspen Skiing Company ups the wind power ante

ASPEN, Colo. — The Aspen Skiing Co. has upped the ante. Previously it purchased 5 per cent of its electricity in the form of shares from wind. Now, it has committed to getting 100 per cent of its power from wind and other forms of non-carbon energy.

Pat O’Donnell, CEO of the Aspen Skiing Co., claimed it is the largest purchase of renewable energy ever by a U.S. ski area. Colorado’s Vail and California’s Sugar Bowl have also made large purchases of wind power.

It’s unclear precisely where Aspen’s wind power will come from. Following the skyrocketing prices of natural gas and other carbon fuels, electricity from wind is now comparable with electricity produced by burning coal. In some areas of Colorado, electricity from wind is sold out. Aspen is contracting with a Boulder, Colo., based broker of alternative energy to find supplies.

In effect, Aspen will pay a bit more for its electricity, which is expected to help expand the infrastructure of alternative energy. Aspen declined to divulge the extra cost it will be paying, or its total cost.

Meanwhile, down-valley 45 miles in Glenwood Springs, city officials have also increased their investment in wind power. Currently, the city gets 4 per cent of its power from wind turbines, the third highest percentage among some 2,000 municipal electric systems in the nation. The cit of about 9,000 people is going to double its share of wind energy, to 8 per cent.

The town had hoped to delay its commitment, pending a study of electrical rates for consumers. However, the supplies of wholesale wind power are being tapped so rapidly that city manager Jeff Heckel urged immediate action. He feared the city might not be able to acquire more wind power if it didn’t act fast, reports the Glenwood Post Independent.

Still, wind remains more expensive than carbon-produced electricity. This move is expected to increase the city’s wholesale power cost by about 1 per cent, or $45,000. But city officials believe that ultimately the wind power may be cheaper. "It will give us a hedge against some of the wildly fluctuating fossil fuel costs that we’ve been experiencing in the last year or two," said Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christiansen.

Steamboat keeps Soul

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — An otherwise drab, conventional bridge across the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs will officially remain the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge, as it has been since 1993. That’s the year Steamboat Springs residents, in a dubious straw vote, chose the name to honor the famous singer and dancer.

That decision had been hotly contested, with an almost equal number of people favoring the simpler and more local name of Stockbridge, honoring its historical use for moving cattle and other livestock. The Steamboat Pilot recalls that some 26,300 ballots were cast in a town that then had only 10,000 people some years later.

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