Aspen is now using 100% renewable energy

Posted at 10:32 AM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 12:32:02-04

With all its glitz and glamour, Aspen may seem more high-roller than hippy.

But eat your heart out Boulder, the pristine mountain city has become one of only three cities in the country (following Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas) to be run entirely with renewable energy.

“We reached 100% renewable energy for the City of Aspen Electric Utility, “ said David Hornbacher, Aspen's director of utilities and environmental initiatives. "We are powered by the forces of nature."

After decades of planning, last week the city signed a contract to replace the last 25% of its fossil fuel power with wind energy being generated in Nebraska. The city also uses hydroelectric power and landfill gases.

The latest reduction eliminates 30-40 million pounds in greenhouse gases, said Hornbacher, the equivalent of taking 4,000 cars off the road for a year.

"We know that climate change is affecting us. We have data that shows we have almost a month less [sic] snow days than we used to in the past,” said Ashley Perl, the city’s climate action manager. “We want to have a small footprint so others see and hopefully realize that they can, too."

While renewable energy is more expensive -- the latest change will cost about $1.90 a month more for residential customers -- Aspen still has some of the lowest residential rates in the states, Perl said, and the city is counting on financial payback later.

"We can guarantee rates for our customers further in the long run than utilities that are running off of fossil fuels,” said Perl.