Around the Mountains: Aspen wants all renewable electricity |

Around the Mountains: Aspen wants all renewable electricity

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ASPEN ” Customers of Aspen Electric, the municipal utility that supplies about two-thirds of the city, will see a rate increase of about 20 percent.

City officials describe it as a way to leverage the city’s electrical supply to 100 percent renewable sources.

Currently, Aspen Electric operates on about 75 percent renewable sources.

However, the increased costs will not be fully shared. The new rates will be incremental, so that consumers who use more kilowatt hours monthly will pay more.

A consultant, Todd Cristiano, told the Aspen City Council that it’s possible some customers will see a decrease in their rates.

Aspen already buys a great deal of wind-generated electricity from outside sources, and in the 1990s invested in retrofit of a nearby dam, at Ruedi Reservoir, to give it hydroelectric capacity.

It is also refurbishing hydroelectric plants on two local creeks to deliver electricity.

Other sources of heat and energy, including ground-source heat pumps and geothermal energy, are also being explored.

Building debris must be sorted for recycling

BANFF, Alberta ” Builders and craftsmen in Banff are now being required to separate construction waste for recycling.

Last year, only 33 percent was separated as necessary for recycling.

The requirement was adopted to help meet a regional goal to divert 70 percent of trash from the local landfill through recycling.

It already costs more to dump construction debris at the landfill, but not high enough to spur the builders to sort more thoroughly, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

The law applies to kiln-dried lumber, drywall, metal, cardboard, concrete and asphalt shingles.

Rapid expansion of hydro projects a concern in B.C.

REVELSTOKE, B.C. ” A private company has filed for the right to divert water from the Illecillewaet River, a tributary of the Columbia River, to produce electricity.

The application by Chasm Power Corporation is among dozens of proposed hydroelectric projects in the interior of British Columbia as part of the provincial government’s goal of boosting electrical production.

The Revelstoke Times Review notes concern among environmentalists.

The river in question provides habitat for bull trout, a species with declining populations, says Sarah Newton, director of the North Columbia Environmental Society.

There are also concerns about secondary impacts, such as the disruption to grizzly and mountain caribou populations caused by clearing of trees for new transmission lines.

Norm MacDonald, an elected representative, disagrees with the provincial government’s strategy.

“You have these private power projects being put in place without an overall plan. In my constituency there are 26 proposed projects. Individually, some of them may make sense, but as a whole it is a disastrous policy environmentally as well as economically,” he said.

He also objects to the lack of local say-so in new hydroelectric projects.

East-West Partners wins kudos for wildlife plan

CANMORE, Alberta ” Colorado-based East-West Partners last year bought a major real-estate development in Canmore called Three Sisters Village.

It was, and is, only partially completed.

East-West is a major presence along Colorado’s I-70 corridor, in Utah’s Park City, and California’s Truckee-Tahoe area.

But this was its first foray into Canada, and the Canmore area was apprehensive.

Not helping anything was the recent news that East West had been fined significantly for allowing construction activities to muddy a creek in California with sediment, harming the fishery.

But the Rocky Mountain Outlook notes it likes what it sees.

East-West has announced it is reducing its density and also has hired two of the most respected wildfire watchers in the valley to figure out where the third and final wildlife corridor should be based on what undeveloped land remains.

This, says the newspaper, is very much unlike the previous ownership. Wildlife corridors were previously chosen based on whether the land had any value for houses, the story indicated.

Land without commercial value, such as steep hillsides, was then designated as that area designed for wildlife, without any consideration whether it was useful to wildlife, either.

“Today, however, a new dawn seems to have arrived,” proclaimed the paper.

No country for young men and women skiers

KETCHUM, Idaho ” The average age of skiers had crept up, and that’s good and well in very many ways.

But at Ketchum and Sun Valley, there’s a sense that the demographics have veered too much to those of a retirement community.

Dick Dorworth, a well-known ski journalist, tells the Idaho Mountain Express that when he goes into a Sun Valley base lodge in the morning that often he’s the youngest person there, “and I’m almost 70.”

Dorworth claims that the skiing on Bald Mountain is the best ” and he should know. He’s taught skiing at many places, and skied most of the others, and in his younger years won a lot of ski races.

But the culture at Sun Valley, he says, is not the best, although he did not explain why.

The Express suggests that the cost of skiing discourages younger people. A season pass this year is going for more than $2,000. A stripped-down 20-day pass costs $800.

Even Aspen is less expensive, with a $1,300 pass available to members of the local chamber of commerce.

Far cheaper yet is the Epic Pass being offered by Vail Resorts, which costs $579 and offers unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, plus California’s Heavenly Pass.

Bair Gourlay, a ski-shop owner in Ketchum, said the high cost of skiing at Sun Valley discourages young people from spending a winter ski-bumming there ” and makes it harder for local shops to find employees.

“The retail is a real struggle, especially for small, mom-and-pop stores,” Gourlay said. “We have to look at who it’s competing with ” at some point we can’t just keep catering to the retired community.”

Of course, Vail’s ski areas all have relatively close proximity to major metro areas, which means that while they offer low prices for ski passes, volume is high. The closest city to Sun Valley is Boise ” fast growing, but small compared to Denver and to the Bay area.

Foreclosure auction planned at Tamarack

DONNELLY, Idaho ” Financial clouds continue to pile up over Tamarack, the ski-based resort located 90 miles north of Boise that only three years ago drew President George W. Bush for a vacation.

The latest bad news for the developers is that two banks, Bank of America and Sterling Bank, that had loaned money for a conference complex and an employee-housing project at the resort plan to have the properties sold by auction.

The Associated Press, in stories published in the Boise Statesman, also reports that Bank of America forced a new agreement to cover lease payments on two ski lifts.

Separately, co-owner Jean-Pierre Boespflug conceded he may be forced to quit as chief executive officer to lure a new investor. Speculation also continues that the resort will be sold.

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