Aspen goes 100 percent wind power
ASPEN ” The Aspen Skiing Co. will offset 100 percent of its electricity use through the purchase of renewable energy from wind farms, the company announced Wednesday.
It is the largest purchase of renewable energy in U.S. ski area history, Aspen’s chief executive, Pat O’Donnell, said.
“Renewable energy is real, it works, and we believe its time has come,” O’Donnell said. “We hope that by taking action as the Aspen Skiing Company, others will follow.”
Eben Burnham-Snyder, spokesman for the Natural Resource Defense Council, said the decision furthers Aspen’s environmental leadership among U.S. ski areas.
“Anytime you have a large business like Aspen Skiing Company going 100 percent renewable, that’s a big deal,” he said. “That’s a lot of pollution that won’t be up in the air.”
Skico estimates it will be keeping 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air each year by purchasing 21,000 megawatt-hours of wind farm-generated electricity.
It doesn’t come at a small price. The Skico would not release the exact cost. But rough estimates based on figures from Community Energy, the company Skico is purchasing from, show it could cost about $210,000 per year.
“We’re up-fronting a lot of money on this,” O’Donnell said. “We feel, ethically and morally, that it’s the right thing to do.”
Skico already gets 5 percent of its electricity from wind through Holy Cross Energy.
Auden Schendler, the director of environmental affairs for Aspen, said this is the most exciting thing he has worked on.
“This is a message to our governor, our president, our guests and the community that climate change is a problem, and we need to start doing something about it,” Schendler said.
A recent report showed Aspen’s greenhouse gas emissions levels at twice the national average. O’Donnell said he is concerned about climate change and hopes the company’s decision will lead others to switch.
He said if temperatures got just one degree warmer, ski season could be shortened by a few weeks or a month, significantly impacting the economy of Aspen and other Rocky Mountain resorts.
“We feel the future, even from consumers, is in companies that are effectively dealing with climate change,” O’Donnell said.
Aspen joins other businesses ” Whole Foods Market, FedEx, Kinko’s, Starbucks, Nike and Patagonia, for example ” in purchasing large amounts of renewable energy. Most of those businesses are members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program seeking to increase the use of green power.