Aspen City Hall installs renewable energy monitor

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Utility Department has installed an interactive monitor at City Hall that tracks energy output at three renewable power sources in the area.

The $11,947 system tracks data at the Ruedi Reservoir and Maroon Creek hydroelectric plants, as well as the Water Campus solar system. Users also can track the data on the city’s Energy Dashboard website. For Phase II of the project, Utilities Manager Lee Ledesma said her department plans to install interactive kiosks in Aspen’s high-traffic areas. Hardware for the kiosks would cost in the range of $25,000, she said.

“We’re hoping that we create technology that other municipal utilities can use for these sorts of programs,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to provide information to the community and our customer base that we think is interesting, especially from a renewable standpoint.”

Later this year, the system will start tracking Ridgeway Reservoir, which will increase Aspen’s renewable energy by 14 percent.

While the monitor, located on the first floor of City Hall, was installed in November, Ledesma said it wasn’t until 10 days ago that the website was fully functional. She said the project has been two years in the making, with software development requiring much of the legwork. Installation of the kiosks, she said, will be a simpler task.

“We’re very excited about it,” she said. “Getting additional funding so we could have more interactive kiosks around town I think would be a great benefit for the investment we’ve spent on the back end.”

To help cover the costs of the project, Ledesma submitted a grant application to the Statewide Internet Portal Authority earlier this month. In a PowerPoint presentation that was submitted with the application, she states that the city hopes to offset the costs in Phase I or Phase II, but not both.

It’s possible that the utility department approaches the Aspen City Council for additional funding, she said. There are also two technology groups — American Public Power Association and Public Technology Institute, which Aspen is affiliated with — that could provide additional funding.

Ledesma said ongoing costs with the project are minimal, because the system only requires about 15 minutes of work a week. For the installation of kiosks, she said they are considering a Roaring Fork Valley firm that worked on a similar project with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

In addition to monitoring the three renewable energy facilities, the system tracks power usage at the Puppy Smith electric switch station, as well as a state-certified weather station.