Aspen to buy more wind energy |

Aspen to buy more wind energy

Carolyn Sackariason
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” The Aspen city government will buy nearly $100,000 of wind energy produced on farms in the Midwest to further its goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The City Council on Tuesday agreed to buy an additional 5 million kilowatt hours from the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN), which has had a contract with the city since 2005.

In March 2005, Aspen entered into an agreement with MEAN to increase wind energy purchases by about 28 percent of the city-owned electric utility, Aspen Electric.

Last year, the council wanted to buy more wind energy through what’s known as an “energy swap” with Holy Cross Energy. The idea was that Aspen would sell hydroelectric power from its Ruedi facility to Holy Cross, while at the same time increasing wind energy purchases through MEAN at an equivalent amount.

Holy Cross commercial customers within the Aspen area would have paid the increased costs of wind energy for the added renewable energy. But because of the economic crisis, those potential customers are no longer in a position to pay the increased power costs.

So while that plan has been scrapped, MEAN has still set aside wind power generated from projects in Nebraska and South Dakota.

Phil Overeynder, the city’s utilities and environmental initiatives director, said the time is ripe to buy wind power at favorable rates before costs go up as more municipalities look to the alternative energy source.

Overeynder’s recommendation of 5 million kilowatt hours will reduce Aspen Electric’s total CO2 emissions by 19 percent.

The additional wind power will be paid for by anticipated revenues generated by higher rates within Aspen Electric, which take effect April 1 and are directed toward increasing renewable energy. Those higher rates will generate an estimated $400,000 a year.

The electric fund’s 2009 budget included both revenue and expenses for the Holy Cross energy swap ” $675,000 for increased wind energy purchases from MEAN and $825,000 in offsetting revenue from the proposed sale to Holy Cross.

Another $412,000 was budgeted for the annual expense necessary to reduce remaining greenhouse gas emissions to zero by Aspen Electric. The $100,00 for more wind energy will come out of that to pay for the 5 million additional kilowatt hours.

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