City buys wind power for Howelsen

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Howelsen Hill Ski Area lift operator Matty Gerhart helps Winter Boese, 6, load onto the poma lift Wednesday. The city has produced renewable energy certificates equivalent to the amount of energy needed to operate the ski area.

— Wind from southeastern Colorado will soon provide power for the Howelsen Hill Ski Area.

City of Steamboat Springs officials have announced the purchase of renewable energy certificates, or RECs. The wind energy is produced by Lamar Light and Power, a Lamar-based utility company with four wind turbines. Steamboat's purchase of RECs equivalent to 352 megawatt hours will offset 100 percent of the electricity used at the downtown ski area, effective Jan. 1.

"This is one of many steps the city is taking to increase the use and promotion of renewable energy," said Gavin Malia, chairman of the city's Green Team. "We are in the process of taking steps to not only offset nonrenewable energy consumption with RECs, but more importantly to use energy more efficiently across the organization."

The purchase represents more than one-fifth of the Green Team's 2007 budget of $20,000.

"This will cost us a little less than $4,224 for one year," Malia said.

Malia said that in future years, the expense could come out of city maintenance budgets for Howelsen Hill, a process similar to future funding for wind-power credits used at Centennial Hall. In May, the city purchased 419 megawatt hours of wind-generated RECs to offset all electricity use at Centennial Hall. In 2007, Malia said, that expense will come out of the building's maintenance budget.

"These purchases represent our guiding principles in action," Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said. "Clearly, one of the most pressing issues of our time is diversifying our energy generation mix and encouraging renewable technologies that are cost effective today."

Community Energy, a marketer and developer of wind power with an office in Boulder, will supply Steamboat with the RECs. The purchases supplement Steamboat's existing wind purchases from the Yampa Valley Electric Association's Windsource program, DuBord said.

"Steamboat Springs' wind purchases are helping to build new wind farms and leading the way to a cleaner and more independent energy future while supporting economic developments for eastern Colorado farming communities," said Eric Blank of Community Energy.

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