Skico not blowing hot air,it’s adding wind power |

Skico not blowing hot air,it’s adding wind power

The Aspen Skiing Co. isn’t just blowing hot air when it comes to its environmental program.The Skico more than doubled its wind-power purchases from Holy Cross Energy this week, according to Skico environmental affairs director Auden Schendler.The Skico has been paying an extra $11,000 annually to buy wind power, he said. It increased that amount by $14,000 to $25,000 annually.Holy Cross charges customers extra to participate in its Wind Power Pioneers program because it is more expense to acquire the alternative energy from its suppliers, according to Dave Church, the head of the company’s alternative-energy programs.The Skico will use the wind power at four of its heaviest-consuming chairlifts. It’s targeting the Silver Queen Gondola at Aspen Mountain, the Big Burn chairlift at Snowmass, the Exhibition chair at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk’s Summit Express. In addition, the Snowmass Club golf clubhouse will run entirely on wind power, according to Schendler.The wind power purchased will amount to about one-quarter of the energy needed by the chairlifts to run through the winter.Wind power isn’t differentiated in the electricity supply; it’s just part of the broader energy pool. However, the Skico has separate accounts with Holy Cross for individual chairlifts, Schendler said, so it was able to specify which accounts should be billed for the wind power.The additional commitment to wind power means the Skico is relying on renewable energy for 5 percent of its supply, Schendler said. In addition to buying wind power, it is generating electricity from its hydroelectric plant at Snowmass Ski Area.Schendler noted that 7 percent of Holy Cross’ general supply of electricity comes from renewable energy, so all 50,000 customers of the rural utility get some of their power from renewable sources.Church said about 2,600 of Holy Cross’ customers purchase wind power. The Aspen Skiing Co. is among the largest customers, along with Vail Resorts.Because the Skico is such a big energy consumer, its purchase is significant. “The average purchase [of wind power] is one or two blocks. They are a few hundred times that,” Church noted.The Skico is adding 560,000 kilowatt-hours to its renewable-energy portfolio annually. That will keep about 1 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, out of the air each year.The Skico’s announcement was timed to coincide with Aspen Valley Renewable Energy Day on Saturday. The free event will feature renewable energy displays, expert energy speakers and live music on the Cooper Street Mall from noon until 5 p.m.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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