Aspen aims for all hydro and wind by 2023 — The Aspen Times

Ridgway Reservoir during winter
Ridgway Reservoir during winter

From The Aspen Times (Karl Herchenroeder):

Aspen officials hope to supply municipal operations entirely with hydroelectric and wind energy by 2023, projections from the city’s renewable energy manager show.

But the success of that lofty projection — along with the city’s 100 percent renewable-energy goal in 2015 — will be based largely on current negotiations with its energy provider, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska.

Doubling the hydro supply at Ridgway Reservoir and phasing out landfill-gas purchases are two things Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska will have to approve for Aspen to meet 2023 projections, but Aspen’s Renewable Energy Manager Will Dolan is confident he can reach agreement on both.

“I think there’s a way to do it,” Dolan said Monday. “I think they’ve voiced an interest in additional Ridgway energy, and they’ve also voiced a willingness to taper off the landfill-gas energy if we needed to.”[…]

Dolan said the city will look to phase out landfill gas in 2023, when Aspen has the option to double its output at Ridgway, boosting supply from 9,800 megawatt hours to about 19,000 megawatt hours. As negotiations proceed, Dolan said it will be key to find some flexibility.

“We don’t want to hem any future councils in,” he said. “As highly desirable resources like Ridgway become available, we want to be able to take advantage of those.”[…]

According to Dolan, Aspen’s energy portfolio is currently made up of 49 percent hydro, 28 percent wind, 20 percent coal/gas and 2 percent nuclear. Dolan’s 2015 projections show 47 percent hydro, 41 percent wind, 11 percent coal/gas and 1 percent nuclear. The 8,500 megawatt hours of coal/gas would be offset in 2015 by the purchase of about 9,300 megawatt hours of landfill gas in the Midwest.

City projections for 2023 show 58 percent hydro and 42 percent wind.

Dolan said that if the Aspen City Council elects to revisit the controversial Castle Creek Energy Center, the city could explore the possibility of tapering back its wind supply. To date, the city has invested about $7 million in the estimated $10.5 million project, which was halted in 2012 when 51 percent of Aspen voters shot it down during an advisory election.

More hydroelectric/hydropower coverage here.

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