By: Glenn Meyers
Aspen, the Colorado skiing-Mecca, now stands tall as a renewable energy visionary, having become one of three US cities to run on 100% renewable electricity.
This news was recently reported by The Aspen Times, citing staff members at Aspen’s environmental and project departments. The City of Aspen, a famed tourist location in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, serves a population of just over 6,600 people, and its renewable power supply comes from a combination of wind, hydro, geothermal heat, and solar.
The plan for shifting to renewable energy and meeting the challenges of climate change dates back to 2005. According to Chris Menges and Will Dolan, from Aspen’s Sustainability and Utility departments:
“In 2005, the City created the Canary Initiative, which identifies Aspen and other mountain communities as “canaries in the coal mine” with respect to their sensitivity to the effects of climate change. Aspen relies on a stable climate and thriving natural environment for its economic viability and quality of life. In 2007, Aspen City Council adopted the Canary Action Plan, committing to the GHG reduction goals.”
The first two US cities to reach the goal were Burlington, Vermont, followed by Greensburg, Kansas.
Aspen’s transition to 100% renewable occurred September 10, after the city signed a contract with wholesale electric energy provider Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska in order “to achieve this final leg of our goal,” city Utilities and Environmental Initiatives director David Hornbacher said.
Aspen receives wind energy from four wind farms in Nebraska and South Dakota, and the city also uses energy from Ruedi Reservoir, Maroon Creek, and Ridgway Reservoir, a hydropower facility near Montrose. Two utilities, Aspen Electric Utility and Holy Cross Energy, serve the community.
Mother Nature Network reports other cities aiming for 100% renewable electricity include Copenhagen, Denmark; Bonaire, a Caribbean island; Munich and Frankfurt, Germany; San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, California; Sydney, Australia; and Isle of Wight, England.