Do the hydro math
Joe was shopping for a new car. The clunker dealer had two models with the features Joe liked. In fact, both models were the same color and the same price. The only difference was that the Sippy model got 30 miles per gallon, while the Gulpy model got 10 mpg.
Joe expected to drive 11,250 miles a year in the new car. A quick calculation showed that if gas cost $4 a gallon, the Sippy would cost 13 cents a mile for gas, while the Gulpy would cost 40 cents a mile. The difference would be 27 cents a mile. It was easy for Joe to figure out that Sippy would cost him $3,000 a year more than Gulpy. Do you think Joe bought Sippy or Gulpy?
Aspen has a hydro plant now operating on Maroon Creek at a cost of about 3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The proposed Castle Creek hydro will require production at Maroon Creek to be reduced by about 1.5 million kilowatt-hours per year because the water will be diverted from Maroon Creek to Castle Creek for the new project. In effect, electrical production will be transferred from where it costs 3 cents at Maroon Creek to at least 11 cents at Castle Creek, a higher cost of about 8 cents a kilowatt-hour for the same electricity. Maroon Creek is Sippy; Castle Creek is Gulpy.
This transfer of electrical production from Maroon Creek to Castle Creek will cost you and me $122,000 more per year for the same electricity. This is more than $6 million over 50 years. The present value of that cost at 3 percent a year is more than $3 million. If Castle Creek hydro is built, it will create an obligation to incur this incremental cost, $3 million at present value. It will be an additional $3 million cost for Castle Creek hydro. This has appeared nowhere in project presentations, financial projections or the brochures and advertising the city has used to promote the project.
So do you think the city of Aspen will buy Sippy or Gulpy? If the public does not intercede, the city will buy Gulpy. The city should talk to Joe.
July 3rd and 4th will probably never be quite the same for residents of the mid-Roaring Fork Valley after the events of 2018.
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