Wind power breezes into energy bills
EAGLE COUNTY – While most people do what they can to lower their utility bills, Tom Page of West Vail voluntarily lets Holy Cross Energy tack an additional $2.50 onto his statement every month. That’s because Page, like 2,800 other Holy Cross customers, believes in the power of wind.”Even if it’s only a tiny, symbolic increment, I think it’s worth it,” Page said. “It’s a way to show that we support renewable energy, and that if companies put money into that infrastructure I’d be willing to purchase it.”With nary a wind turbine in sight anywhere in Eagle County, buying wind through Holy Cross may seem like a leap of faith. But Holy Cross spokesman David Church said it really does make a difference. “It’s not going to be physically delivered from the Front Range over here,” Church said, adding that the utility buys it through the Xcel Energy grid, which in turns receives it from the Ponnequin Wind Farm in northern Colorado.”It’s the equivalent of pouring a gallon of water into one end of the lake and taking it out of the other,” Church said. “It may not be the same gallon, but it does reduce the amount of power generated by coal or natural gas. So it helps the environment in that way.”Most electricity in Colorado is generated by the burning of fossil fuels – a fact of which Tom Page said he suspects most people are unaware.”When I drive up to the Northern Rockies and see those big, coal-fired electrical plants, it looks like something out of ‘The Road Warrior,'” Page said. “Anything we can do to help phase those things out over next 50 years, in my mind it’s worth it.”Easy to doSigning up to buy wind power is pretty simple, Church said. Holy Cross customers can make a note on their bill, pick up the phone, send an e-mail or fill out an online form at holycross.com (click on “green programs”). The utility sells wind in blocks of 100 kilowatt hours.(According to the Web site answers.com, a kilowatt-hour is equal to the expenditure of one kilowatt of power for one hour. A toaster running for an hour will use about this much energy.)”So if your bill is usually around 500 kilowatt hours, you can sign up for one, 100 kilowatt-hour block of wind,” Church said, adding that each block adds $2.50 to the normal bill.Customers can scale the amount all the way up to “full wind,” meaning all the energy would be supplied by wind power. On a 500 kilowatt-hour bill, that’d be an additional $12.50.With 2,800 wind subscribers out of some 50,000 meters, Holy Cross Energy has one of the most successful wind programs in the country, percentage-wise, Church said. “We live in and active, outdoor environment,” he said. “It means a lot to people to help with keeping clean air and water. “Church said he thinks even more people would be on board if they knew about the wind option.”We’ve had the program since 1998, and still people say ‘Wow, I didn’t know about that,'” he said.Vail, Colorado
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