From The Aspen Times (Andre Salvail):
One [ballot question], arguably the most controversial, is a referendum question that asks voters whether the city should continue with a hydroelectric project on Castle Creek…
With regard to the hydroelectric plant, the city’s voters will be asked the following “advisory” question: “Shall the city of Aspen complete the hydroelectric facility on Castle Creek, subject to local stream health monitoring and applicable government regulations, to replace coal-fired energy with renewable energy?” The council and city staff agreed to the ballot language at an Aug. 28 work session, and no members of the audience spoke up to oppose it.
So far, the city has spent about $7 million on the hydroelectric project, which aims to take a portion of the water flowing from Castle and Maroon creeks to generate enough power to cover 8 percent of the city electric utility’s needs. In 2007, when voters approved a bond-issue referendum that set the hydroelectric project into motion, the project cost was estimated at $6.2 million. Cost overruns have resulted in a revised estimate of $10.5 million to complete the plant.
A petition drive led by local residents Ward Hauenstein and Maurice Emmer early this year set off a chain of events leading to the referendum question. The petition sought to overturn the council’s December rezoning decision allowing public land off Power Plant Road to be used for the plant. The proposed plant has drawn fierce opposition from some Castle Creek property owners as well as the nonprofit group American Rivers.