City of Aspen on right track with utility rate hikes |

City of Aspen on right track with utility rate hikes

Aspen Times Staff

The city of Aspen is proposing to raise rates for electricity and water for all the right reasons: to boost our use of renewable energy and encourage conservation by penalizing energy and water hogs.Since its first hydroelectric plant was built in the 1880s, Aspen has been a leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy. It’s a tradition that residents and community leaders have backed for as long as anyone can remember.The latest proposal – to hike Aspen’s electric rates for the first time in 12 years and electric rates for the first time in 17 years – represents another step toward a sustainable and environmentally responsible future.Currently, 57 percent of Aspen’s electricity comes from renewable sources like water and wind; the remainder comes from coal-fired plants. Additional collections from the proposed rate increase would allow the city to boost its percentage of green power, an appropriate move for a municipality that depends on clean air, clean water and ample snowfall unimpeded by global warming to support its economy and the lifestyles of its residents.The council has only preliminarily endorsed the rate increases. The public will have its chance to speak on the matter in the coming weeks and, if formally approved, the new rates would go into effect in January.Fortunately, the contemplated increases will not break the bank for most Aspenites. The average residential user’s monthly electric bill would jump from $50.23 to $52.23 (based on 700 kilowatt hours), while a typical large commercial user’s bill would increase from $1,409 to anywhere from $1,460 to $1,720 (based on 20,000 kilowatt hours); under the new system businesses would be encouraged to use the bulk of their power in off-peak periods, when demand isn’t as high and it’s cheaper for the city to provide power.Water rates would jump more steeply, but the increase would be phased over several years. This will give consumers plenty of time to change their habits and reduce their water consumption, perhaps even offsetting the rate hikes.Nobody likes to pay more money for water and power, but these rate increases come after a long period of reasonable, stable rates. This is sensible policy with the laudable social aim of responsible, conservative use of natural resources.

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