Aspen aims 100% wind and hydro power by 2023

By Editor


Aspen officials plan to supply entire municipal operations with wind energy and hydroelectric renewable energy source by 2023.

The city authorities have kept a target to achieve 100 percent renewable-energy in 2015, based on current negotiations with Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska.

For this, the city of Aspen will have to rely partly on landfill gas, an energy source with questionable legitimacy as a renewable product.

Aspen would still be using a coal-based product, but it would be purchasing the cleaner landfill gas for customers in the Midwest.

The coal-based product is Schedule M energy, which is made up of about 80 percent coal, as well as small portions of natural gas, oil, wind, hydro and nuclear.


Aspen would pay $29 per megawatt hour on top of the Schedule M price for delivering landfill gas elsewhere by the energy agency.

Aspen is in need of 18,000 and 20,000 megawatt hours every year to achieve 100 percent renewable-energy goal, with an annual demand of about 75,000 megawatt hours.

Initially, the city had planned to close coal purchases but as MEAN’s business model is based on the energy source, organization leaders are unwilling. Though new purchases will include both landfill gas and wind, willingness for more wind is seen.

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.

Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska officials has stated that it will be up to the energy cooperative’s board of directors, including officials from 63 different municipalities that have long-term agreements with the organization.

Currently, Aspen’s energy portfolio is made up of 49 percent hydro, 28 percent wind, 20 percent coal/gas and 2 percent nuclear. The study shows 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.

Aspen City Council can revoke controversial Castle Creek Energy Center to explore the possibility of tapering back its wind supply. So far, the city has invested about $7 million in the estimated $10.5 million project, which was halted in 2012.

Aspen’s current contract with Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska expires in 2037 and getting out of current contracts will cost about $8 million in exit fees besides finding a similar energy provider.

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