The mayor’s monsters | AspenTimes.com

The mayor’s monsters

Dear Editor:

Mayor Mick Ireland seems to suffer from some delusional fantasies about coal and the people who oppose the Castle Creek hydroelectric project. First, I don’t know of anyone who is getting money from big coal. The Western Rivers Institute certainly is not, nor is American Rivers.

Ireland likes to make unsubstantiated claims, fearmonger and distract people from the real issues and problems with this ill-conceived project.

He claims that the hydroelectric plant will replace the city’s coal-fired power and will provide “base” power at night when the sun doesn’t shine or when the wind doesn’t blow.

There is only one problem with this idea. Ask yourself these questions:

When is Aspen’s energy demand the highest? Winter.

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When does Aspen need lots of water from Castle and Maroon creeks for the thousands of skiers and snowmaking? Winter.

When do the streams run lowest, and when are they most vulnerable? Winter.

And when will the Castle Creek hydroelectric plant be unable to provide much power, if any? The long, cold and dark months of winter.

Without “base” power from the Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska in winter, Aspen will be pretty cold and dark. City Hall can’t control how the association generates the electricity that Aspen needs in the winter. No coal-fired plant will reduce its consumption just because Aspen doesn’t want it.

Maybe, instead, Aspen residents can heat their homes with another seemingly endless renewable energy source – hot air from City Hall.

There is also another loud hypocrisy on the mayor’s part. If Big Coal is so evil, why is it OK for Aspen Skiing Co., an environmentally conscious organization, to partner with the same evil industry and the evil Oxbow Mine in Delta County to capture and burn methane? This methane otherwise would be vented from the mines into the atmosphere, where it’s a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Aspen Skiing Co.’s efforts are commendable and will help reduce, but not eliminate, greenhouse gases. Its very real partnership with evil big coal is good – unlike the mayor’s fantasies, false fears and delusions.

I don’t know about you, but I stopped being afraid of monsters under my bed a long time ago. The mayor should grow up and stick to the realities that make this project such a bad idea.

Hydroelectricity can and should play a responsible role in renewable energy, but not like this. Aspen can do better.

Ken Neubecker

Carbondale

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