Aspen's natural assets are closely guarded and the community takes an aggressive stance against the threats of climate change. From civic to private and nonprofit sectors, there is a high level of advocacy and initiatives that make Aspen a leader in environmental stewardship.
Municipal Renewable Energy The following is a summary of the City of Aspen's renewable energy programs currently in operation and future programs in development. You can learn more about the below topics on the the City of Aspen & Pitkin County website.
Hydroelectric Generation Facilities
The city of Aspen currently operates two hydroelectric plants at Ruedi Reservoir and Maroon Creek, and has plans for a third facility at Castle Creek. The Castle Creek plant will produce 5.5 million kilowatt hours, enough to power about 650 Aspen homes, bringing the city's total hydroelectric power output to 24.7 million kilowatt hours.
The City of Aspen's Electric Utility purchases wind power from wind turbines located in Kimball, Nebraska. Wind power accounts for 27% of the fuel mix used to make our electricity and is carbon free.
The city is investigating the potential for a new geothermal electric utility and has identified five potential locations, all in city parks, where a test well could be drilled. Drilling at the test site will resume in Spring 2012
In the next two years, the city plans to implement two heat-exchange systems using the stable water temperatures in local reservoirs.
A solar thermal panel system is helping us meet our domestic hot water supply, and the water department is installing a solar voltaic system on the electric grid under the Solar Voltaic Project, reducing our community's carbon footprint by an estimated 9,215,000 lbs.
In what many see as the best solution for a truly green energy, the city of Aspen looks to be at the forefront of hydrogen energy technology with plans to build a hydroelectric plant with a hydrogen electrolyzer at the Castle Creek facility over the next two years. If the hydrogen energy program moves forward as planned, Aspen is poised to be the first city in Colorado to build an infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered cars.
Other Municipal Environmental Initiatives
Smart Use of Water
The city of Aspen has made improvements to the municipal water distribution system which has resulted in water-use levels similar to those existing in Aspen in the 1950s, all despite a dramatic increase in population. Efficiency is a priority as seen in the Aspen public golf course where 30 million gallons of water are saved each year thanks to a state-of-the-art irrigation system. In addition, water-saving technology is used in all 35 city parks.
Green Parks & Open Space
Aspen Parks Department manages approximately 1,300 acres of open space and 25 parks within and around the city in addition to supporting an active land acquisition program.
The city of Aspen's Recycling Ordinance requires recycling be part of basic trash service for all residential, multi-family and commercial customers, and was the first in Colorado to include the commercial sector. To encourage residents to recycle, the city has a "pay as you throw" policy, making the cost of a 64-gallon trash bin at least twice the cost of a 32-gallon trash bin.
Cleaner Air and Better Transportation
The city of Aspen operates eight shuttle routes providing free transit service to more than 1 million residents and visitors each year. The City also boasts a unique car-share program, offering residents a fleet of vehicles to rent for a small cost instead of owning a car. Most of the City's shuttle, transit and car-share vehicles use hybrid and biodiesel technology. The Rio Grande Trail, which connects Glenwood Springs to Aspen (41 miles!) offers alternative transportation for cyclists, pedestrians and inline skaters.
The city of Aspen helps commuters find carpool partners and provides free parking to qualifying carpools. Local employers are provided grants and other incentives when they establish alternative commuting programs.
In 2000, Aspen adopted the world's first mandatory program to levy a charge on excessive energy use. The Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP) has the goal of keeping three tons of carbon out of the air for every ton of excess carbon emitted from homes in Aspen.
The city strives to achieve the highest level of green building when it constructs affordable housing. By using innovative efficient building techniques, systems and materials, new affordable housing units consume 50 percent less energy than average buildings of similar size and function.