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Snowmass Village adds a touch of microhydro

Twenty years ago the Aspen Skiing Co. installed microhydro to its snowmaking system, allowing the company to generate electricity from the small amounts of water flowing downhill.

Recently, Snowmass Village did the same on the water line between the treatment plant located mid-mountain on the Snowmass Ski Area and the town commercial center more than 1,000 feet below.

The turbine installed by the town and associated water district can produce around 20 kilowatts per hour, or enough for the needs of 16 average-sized houses for 16 to 20 hours per day, reported The Aspen Times. The newspaper did not say whether that is average for Snowmass or some other places.

Also partners in the project were the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Holy Cross Energy, and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Cost was $230,000.


Black Hills Energy plan for 79% renewables by 2030

Black Hills Energy has submitted an electric resource plan to Colorado regulators that it says will achieve 79% renewable energy in its portfolio by 2030.

Somewhat confusingly, this further decarbonization will allow the company to reduce its emissions 90% as compared to a 2005 baseline. Colorado’s legal target is 80%.

The plan calls for adding 149 megawatts of wind, 258 megawatts of solar, and 50 megawatts of battery storage to deliver to its customers in the Pueblo-Canon City area.

A press release from Black Hills says the company also plans to reduce customer bills 1% starting in 2023.


Beneficial electrification program in Eagle County has funds for 125 home upgrades

The program for a beneficial electrification program in Eagle County has been augmented by $100,000, allowing the program to complete 125 home make-overs in the next five years.

The Vail Daily reports that the program, called BEECH, for Beneficial Electrification for Eagle County Homes, was begun in 2020 and has so far completed 14 projects at the Dotsero Mobile Home Park. The trailer park is located near the confluence of the Eagle and Colorado Rivers.

Prior to the improvements, all the homes were heated by propane gas. Poor insulation and appliances with high consumption made this expensive and unhealthy for residents because of gas leaks and carbon-monoxide poisoning, and bad for the global environment, because of the greenhouse emissions.

Propane heaters are removed and replaced with air-source heat pumps for heating and cooling. Also part of the make-over is addition of all-electric induction ranges.

Energy audits reveal how to improve energy efficiency. The ensuing improvements typically result in a $600 annual reduction in heating costs.

In addition to funds and overhead by Eagle County, the program has been enabled by funding from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments and other sources.


Solar coop seeks to foster sunshine-harvesting in northwest Colorado

The Northwest Solar Co-op made the case for participation this week with events in Meeker, Steamboat Springs, and Craig.

The co-op, organized by nonprofit group Solar United Neighbors (SUN) in partnership with Routt County and the City of Steamboat Springs, has more than 40 members signed up so far.

The solar co-op’s mission is to make going solar easier and more accessible to all Northwest Colorado communities.



Allen Best
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