Keeping Aspen’s lights on |

Keeping Aspen’s lights on

I read with interest Paul Menter’s commentary in the Aspen Daily News, Feb. 12, about the Aspen Canary Initiative, which Paul inferred was “clandestinely planned.” What a pile of B.S.!

Paul failed to mention that the opponents to the Castle Creek Energy Center used misleading and false information in their campaign against the restoration of Aspen’s historic hydroelectric facilities. Pictures of dried-up streambeds and dead fish from locations other than Aspen were a concerted campaign of misinformation that worked to defeat Aspen’s efforts to restore those historic hydroelectric, clean-energy generation facilities.

Many years ago (over 50), Aspen was completely independent of “the grid.” We had our own hydroelectric plant for which we paid $250,000, not even the price of a top employee unit in today’s market!

This is no longer the case. Our insatiable appetite for the “good life” has compounded our demand for electric energy. The city, with its Canary Initiative, is attempting to wean us off of coal. We, as Aspen citizens, need to become aware of our responsibility to the environment by supporting the city’s efforts or by cooperating in our own efforts to seek a resolution of our differences.

Sometimes we make the wrong choices and decisions. Some 50 years ago, the city made a terrible mistake by removing the very slow-speed and very durable Pelton wheels with AC generators that once furnished electricity to the city and the ski lifts on Aspen Mountain. At the time, that decision seemed a pragmatic one, since the wood flumes supplying water for the Castle Creek Power House were in need of replacement.

At the same time, the city was very poor and struggling to provide other necessary community services. During the late ’50s and early ’60s, both the water and sewer systems had to be entirely replaced. The electric utilities also were in poor condition and the streets were a mess, unpaved and full of potholes.

To sum it all up: The town’s infrastructure from the mining era was worn out. Unless you lived in town and worked all night keeping those lights on or the water flowing or the streets plowed, you have no idea what it was like or how hard many of us worked to keep this town going.

Jim Markalunas


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