August finish line for 100 percent renewable energy in Aspen |

August finish line for 100 percent renewable energy in Aspen

Aspen’s push to source its electric customers with 100 percent renewable energy could be realized by August, officials told the Aspen City Council on Tuesday.

That finish line is dependent on an agreement with the city’s energy provider, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, that will result in a portfolio consisting of about 52 percent wind, 46 percent hydroelectric and 2 percent landfill gas. Execution of the agreement, expected in August, would mean Aspen Electric’s 3,100 accounts would be sourced with 100 percent renewable energy, which would meet the city’s 2015 goal. Aspen’s other provider, Holy Cross Energy, sources about 5,000 accounts with 25 percent renewable energy, according to Tuesday’s presentation.

“Once the ink is dry, from that point forward, Aspen (Electric) is 100 percent renewable,” Aspen’s Renewable Energy Manager Will Dolan said. “The other part of this is working on what different ways we can promote this accomplishment and try to drive other cities and communities to try to accomplish this.”

Mayor Steve Skadron said it’s important to draw the distinction between Aspen Electric and Holy Cross. Another caveat that has been discussed is the legitimacy of landfill gas as a renewable source. With that product, Aspen is essentially using coal-based energy, while enabling customers in the Midwest to purchase cleaner landfill gas. Additionally, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska representative Andres Ross pointed out that some scientists argue landfill gas produces emissions far worse than carbon-based sources.

Because the pending agreement is such a new concept, Dolan said the two sides plan to sign a three-year agreement, which Councilman Dwayne Romero regarded as short. The goal is to work out a long-term agreement in the interim, Dolan said. Officials estimate that the push for 100 percent renewable energy will result in an additional $1.75 per month for Aspen’s average residential customer.

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