Vail to purchase 100% of its municipal power from renewable sources | VailDaily.com

Vail to purchase 100% of its municipal power from renewable sources

Purchase won't count against the town's existing greenhouse gas reduction targets

Construction manager Jeff Bintz, left, and installer and trainer Dylan Reitenbach install solar panels at a Holy Cross Energy community solar array in Gypsum last summer. The town of Vail recently approved an agreement to purchase electricity from renewable sources for all municipal uses.
Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo

By the numbers

25%: Goal for reduction of Vail’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 levels by 2025.

70%: Holy Cross Energy’s goal for renewable energy sources by 2021.

39%: Holy Cross Energy’s current use of renewable sources for electricity.

4%: Town of Vail’s reduction in carbon dioxide emissions between 2014 and 2017.

VAIL — The Vail Town Council on May 21 agreed to become the latest Eagle County government to purchase 100% of its municipally-used electricity from renewable sources. But, town officials say, more needs to be done.

Council members voted 6-1 — with council member Greg Moffet in dissent — to purchase electricity from renewable sources from Holy Cross Energy.

If it was just a matter of paying Holy Cross for a different kind of electricity, the town would be well on its way to a self-imposed goal to hit a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases from 2009 levels by 2025.

A first step

But, Moffet said, that’s a “politically lazy” way of reaching that goal.

“I need to see more renewable (energy) in town,” Moffet said. “And it needs to be installed in a way that requires us to make real tradeoffs.”

Council member Jenn Bruno agreed, saying buying electricity from renewable sources is “cheating.”

Despite her colleagues’ reservations, council member Kim Langmaid, the founder of Walking Mountains Science Center, said it’s important to act, and that the town simply doesn’t have the open space required to generate electricity in town.

Langmaid noted that at a discussion with utility officials, Steve Beuning of Holy Cross had mentioned possible alternative sources of electricity, including an array of solar collectors at the town’s public works shops.

“These things take a couple of years,” Langmaid said. “But we need to act now… (then) work on other initiatives.”

Town environmental sustainability manager Kristen Bertuglia told council members that there hasn’t been much work done on projects with longer-term paybacks.

“Now we’re at the stage where we need to talk about big renewables,” Bertuglia said. But, she added, those bigger projects are expensive.

Council members ultimately approved the agreement — leaving open for now whether its purchases from Holy Cross will come from wind, solar or hydroelectric generation. The resolution also states that the power purchases won’t count toward the town’s existing greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.




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