Snowmass Village’s climate change plan moving forward |

Snowmass Village’s climate change plan moving forward

Solar panels
Aspen Times file photo

The next step in Snowmass Village’s plan to combat climate change should come early next month.

That’s when Snowmass Village Town Council is scheduled to address and likely approve six local projects that will harness the sun and water to lower both the town’s electrical costs and its carbon emissions.

“We need to do something,” said Councilman Tom Goode. “And not just our municipality, but our generation. We need to lower our carbon footprints for our children and our children’s children.

“We need to straighten out the Earth.”

Most of the proposed projects set to come before the council May 6 involve installing solar panels at five municipal buildings in Snowmass Village, said Travis Elliott, assistant to the town manager. Those buildings include Town Hall and the public works department — where the panels will be located on the ground — as well as the Snowmass Recreation Center, Mountain View II apartments and Town Park Station, where the panels will be installed on the roofs, Elliott said.

The sixth project is the installation of a hydro-turbine in a vault across Brush Creek Road from Town Hall that will generate electricity, possibly to sell back to Holy Cross Energy, he said.

The cost for all six projects is roughly $1 million, Elliott said. Of that amount, $340,000 will come in the form of grants from the local nonprofit Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) and the state’s Department of Local Affairs, Elliott said. The rest will be paid for by Snowmass Village, he said.

The solar panels will offset 73% of the town’s electricity costs for operating those buildings, Elliott said. Together, the six projects are likely to generate a total of about $40,000 a year in savings or revenue generation, he said.

The solar panels will have paid for themselves in energy cost savings after 16½ years, while they are expected to last about 25 years, Elliott said. And though the economics are not ideal, cost is not the only consideration, he said.

Snowmass Village Mayor Markey Butler echoed that sentiment.

“It is a lot of money,” she said. “But at the end of the day, you can’t always focus on the financial side. Our commitment to environmental causes … outweighs the dollars.”

Mona Newton, CORE’s executive director, gave Snowmass Village props for its environmental commitment and noted that the town had been part of CORE since the nonprofit was created 25 years ago. Further, she said she particularly appreciates that the solar panels at Town Hall — which CORE is specifically helping pay for — will be on the ground and visible, which can prompt residents and businesses to invest in solar power as well.

“Not everybody wants to see solar panels,” Newton said. “I do.”

The six new projects — which Butler said she expects will be approved unanimously May 6 — are part of Snowmass Village’s commitment to combating climate change. In 2015, Town Council set a goal of reducing its carbon emissions 20% by 2020.

So far, the number has been reduced by 17%, mainly through more energy efficient buildings, building code changes and by participating in Holy Cross Energy’s renewable energy program, Elliott said.

The solar panels and the hydro-turbine will only bump up the total by about 1%, he said. However, every little bit counts, Butler said.

“Moving forward, we had hoped for much greater (gains) at the end of the day,” she said. “But I don’t care if it’s .01%, we’re still making strides.”


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