Summer-Fall 2010 Telluride Magazine

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greenbytes merrick chase/

effect that matters. Collectively, the towns participating in the challenge reduced the usage of single-use shopping bags by approximately 5.3 million. What he was really aiming for, Allen said, is changing people’s habits and making them more aware of the effects of their everyday activities. —Katie Klingsporn

Telluride Renewed In the Telluride region, local governments have been riding the green bandwagon for years— changing out incandescents, recycling at meetings, even implementing an effluent recapture system at the wastewater treatment plant. But this took it to a whole new level. Last fall, the world celebrated 350. org Day, a global initiative urging world leaders to enact climate change legislation to reduce the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, considered the safe upper limit. The mayors of Telluride and Mountain Village joined in and offered a bold objective: to become a 100-percent carbon neutral community by 2020. With that, the Telluride Renewed Challenge was born. The idea behind the challenge is for the towns to transition to entirely renewable—and ideally local—energy sources. Ideas for accomplishing this include a solar array at the water treatment plant, micro-hydroelectric projects in town and more. It’s an ambitious undertaking. Electricity use in both towns has been on the rise in the last couple years, and late in December, a historic power demand tripped a main breaker, resulting in a blackout


in Telluride and Mountain Village that lasted more than an hour. Despite the uphill battle, Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser said he thinks the community’s up to it. “Our challenge is great, almost overwhelming, but it is doable,” Fraser said. —Katie Klingsporn

[ BAG IT ]

Bring Your Own Bag Last year, ski towns across the Rockies engaged in an environmental challenge: a friendly competition to see which community, per capita, could slash its use of single-use plastic shopping

summer/fall 2010

bags the most. Some 34 towns, from Aspen to Durango, participated in the Colorado Association of Ski Towns Bag Challenge, with shoppers carrying canvas bags and participating stores getting the message out with signs and fliers. In the end, Basalt proved to be the greenest, saving the use of 380,000 plastic bags during the summertime challenge, and took home the prize: $10,000 toward the installation of a solar array (sponsored by Alpine Bank and PCL Construction). Telluride didn’t win, or even make the top three. This may have been a disappointment to local shoppers, who, the year before, had handily beat out Aspen in the inaugural bag challenge between the two towns. But organizer Dave Allen, a Telluride local, said it’s really the cumulative

Solar Farm in Norwood Norwood, the agrarian community just west of Telluride, is known for its small farms and ranches and its plentiful sunshine. This winter, the area will be home to a new kind of plant that flourishes in the sun: a solar electricity plant. SunEdison plans to construct a 2-megawatt photovoltaic power plant on a 40-acre parcel located southeast of the town. Local energy cooperative San Miguel Power Association already has a contract with SunEdison to purchase the plant’s output for 25 years, fulfilling the co-op’s goal of providing its members with clean, renewable sources of electricity. The proposed solar plant will supply about 2 percent of SMPA’s annual load. SunEdison expects to break ground on the project in September and hopes to be providing power in January of 2011. —D. Dion


Green Cents Goes Opt-Out merrick chase/



San Miguel Power Association’s Green Cents program, which rounds energy bills up to the nearest dollar and uses the extra change to fund green projects, started out as an optional program. This winter, though, Green Cents went opt-out. The power co-op started enrolling all its members in the program in February, and now people who don’t want to participate have to say so.