Wind powers Centennial Hall

$5,000 in 'green tag' renewable energy certificates purchased

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— The city of Steamboat Springs recently purchased renewable energy certificates from wind farms.

The purchase was the largest of its kind made by a Steamboat entity, according to city officials.

Renewable energy certificates are called green tags. The tags are not a direct purchase of wind energy. Rather, they provide financing for wind farm projects. The financing increases the availability of wind energy and lowers its cost for consumers.

The city bought about 417 megawatt hours, which is enough to offset 100 percent of its electricity use for Centennial Hall and the primary ski lift at Howelsen Hill.

In 2005, the Steamboat Springs City Council allocated $5,000 for the purchase of the certificates. At the time, officials thought it would be enough for Centennial Hall. However, extra money was left over, and it was put to certificates equivalent to the electricity required to operate the Howelsen Hill lift, said Gavin Malia, chairman of the city's Green Team. The Green Team promotes environmentally friendly practices.

Centennial Hall was selected because it is one of the most public facilities the city has, Malia said.

"It was a building built for the community...that's where all the decisions are made based on the long-term goals for the community," he said.

Malia said he appreciates City Council and staff support.

"It's great to see the political backing of the City Council as well as the management team for the effort," he said.

The city bought the wind energy certificates from Community Energy, a marketer and developer of wind energy generation. The wind farms that will be supported are owned and operated by the city of Lamar.

"We chose the entity that we did not only because it was a Colorado wind project, but also because we will be supporting rural communities in Eastern Colorado," Malia said.

Officials estimate that the wind farm in Lamar could bring 300 construction jobs to Prowers County, 20 permanent jobs, and boost the county's property tax base by 30 percent, according to a news statement.

-- To reach Dana Strongin call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com.

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