Basalt signs on for more wind power |

Basalt signs on for more wind power

The Basalt town government has put its money where its mouth is when it comes to environmental leadership.

The Town Council voted 6-0 this week to buy more wind-generated electricity, even though the municipal bills will be slightly higher.

The town currently buys two blocks of wind power. The council decided to buy 100 blocks. A block of wind power is equal to a 100 kilowatt hour.

“For a town the size of Basalt, this amount of wind power [100 blocks] would supply approximately 10 percent of their electric use,” said an analysis for Basalt by the valley-based Community Office for Resource Efficiency, known as CORE.

Each block costs about $2.50 extra per month, according to CORE. The town’s bill will increase about $3,000 annually for converting to 10 percent wind-powered electricity.

That “green pricing” – or paying more for a clean power source – is worth the benefits, according to CORE spokesman Randy Udall.

His information showed that buying 100 blocks of wind power annually avoids strip mining and burning 120,000 pounds of coal. It also cuts Basalt’s greenhouse gas emissions by 300,000 pounds, helping reduce global warming.

Councilman Chris Lane said buying wind power at a slightly higher rate was actually cost effective in the long run when considering the bills that will someday come due for cleaning up the environment.

“When you look at the big picture, it’s not costing us anything,” he said.

There were no arguments from other council members. Town Manager Tom Baker and Public Works Director Gerry Pace also endorsed the move in a memo.

“It is difficult to imagine a better `fit’ than alternative energy for the town of Basalt,” the staff memo said. “The Trustees have a reputation of resource conservation and environmental leadership.

“The Wind Power program is a responsible way for the Trustees to further the community’s ethic of stewards of the environment.”

Basalt joins Aspen, Snowmass Village, Pitkin County and Carbondale as major buyers of wind power. They combine to purchase nearly 1,000 blocks, according to Udall.

CORE and Holy Cross Electric Association have combined to sell 1 1/2 megawatts of wind electricity already in the Roaring Fork and Eagle River valleys, Udall said. Their goal is to sell at least three megawatts.

The power is produced by 20 giant turbines at a “wind farm” on the Colorado-Wyoming border, north of Denver. Seven more turbines are being constructed and ultimately the site will house 40, Udall said.

Individual households and businesses can also participate in the wind program by contacting Holy Cross.

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