Imagine a pile of coal the size of Aspen’s city hall, filled from floor to ceiling, 13.75 million pounds in all.
Then consider burning that lump coal every 2.5 years.
That those vast amounts of coal are burned in Nebraska and the power transmitted here is of little consolation to a planet where the polar ice cap is at a new record low and our ski season grows ever shorter. Out of sight is not out of mindful responsibility to the planet.
As a committed environmentalist living here for 33 years, I believe we in Aspen can and should step up to address the impacts of our power consumption and replace coal with renewable, cheaper local hydro power.
The city of Aspen utility already buys the maximum amount of usable wind power — we own a quarter of a wind farm. More wind or solar does not meet our needs because those resources are not available in the dark or at windless times. We now have to virtually give away wind power when production exceeds our needs from time to unpredictable time.
While it is true the streams would see a reduced flow averaging 13 percent, all the water is returned to Castle Creek and below the Castle Creek Bridge.
The city of Aspen hydro project is a not a consumptive use. The many litigants suing to take your water rights collectively take and keep. Water taken for reflecting ponds, lawns, horse feed crops and the like is not returned to the stream.
The city hydro project returns water to the stream after producing energy. Our conservation and water rate incentives have actually reduced the amount of water taken for municipal (largely drinking) purposes by 4 cubic feet per second.
Unlike the many, many users and corporate entities who take and consume water from the creek, Aspen is the only one with an agreement with the state of Colorado to stop taking water when stream flow is low. And Aspen is the only entity agreeing to periodic review of the impacts of its uses.
As mayor, a local resident and an environmentalist with a proven commitment to a low-impact lifestyle, I have pledged to protect the health of the stream. As even my critics concede, I stand behind my promises and the data I cite.
I am a member of Backyard Energy and we will disclose all of our funding sources. We will not hide behind corporate nonprofit front groups, P.O. boxes and unattributed websites.
If you can locate and talk to any of the people donating money to defeat this project, ask them what they have done and are doing to reduce their water consumption in the interest of the environment. Corporations may be people, but they aren’t people stepping forward to account for their environmental impacts and false claims about this project.
Please vote yes on 2-C this Nov. 6 or vote early.