Mountain News 

See no solar

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Breckenridge has held back on plans to install solar panels at two prominent locations, the local golf club and a venue called the Riverwalk Center often used for weddings.

The town, reports the Summit Daily News , will move forward with less visible solar panel installations at nine other public buildings, including the community recreation center, the police station and the ice arena.

People who spoke out against the panels said the solar panels would damage the historic feel of the town, might impact property values of nearby homes, and would lock the town into technology that might change or improve in coming years.

As measured financially, however, the technology works well already. At the Riverwalk, 10 stand-alone panels standing 18 feet high (5.5 metres) would have been erected along the parking lot, producing 23 per cent of the electricity consumed by the building and saving the town $6,700 in just the first year alone. The electrical bill would have been dented even more severely at the golf club.

As a majority of electricity in Colorado comes from burning coal, a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, the solar panels help to reduce the town's carbon footprint. Breckenridge residents have mostly indicated their support of that goal.

Understandably, some council members were vexed. "We want to be green as long as we don't have to see it," said Councilman Mike Dudick.


Plastic bottles safe for now

ASPEN, Colo. - A ban on plastic bottles? Not in Aspen, which has instead decided to emphasize the positive, the high quality of its native waters high in the Rocky Mountains. The idea for the ban came up after a councilman noticed all the plastic bottles littering the water in the British Virgin Islands while on a vacation earlier this year, notes The Aspen Times .

But Aspen has decided to follow in the footsteps of Telluride to discourage plastic bags, and it hopes for coordination with other municipalities in the Roaring Fork Valley in adoption of a policy.

Whistler has also talked about crimping the proliferation of plastic shopping bags. But the city's environmental coordinator, Nicolette Richer, recently said that the initiative must come from the business community, particularly the three grocery stores that account for 70 per cent of plastic bags issued in Whistler.

Pique Newsmagazine , talking with two of the groceries, reported some hedging by one about "two sides to the coin," but more clear enthusiasm from a second grocery. "It does make sense to change over and get rid of the plastic, so we're fully supportive of something that will work for Whistler," said Kent Dawson of Whistler's Creekside Market.

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