Colorado Resort Town Goes Renewable


By Maura Forrest

September 10, 2015

The ski resort town of Aspen, Colorado has become the third U.S. city to run entirely on renewable energy, according to city officials.

The achievement is the result of a goal set at least a decade ago, utilities and environmental initiatives director David Hornbacher told the Aspen Times.

“It was a very forward-thinking goal and truly remarkable achievement,” he said.

Aspen is powered largely by hydroelectricity and wind energy, with solar, nuclear, and landfill gas power making smaller contributions.

The city had already been getting 75 to 80 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, according to officials. Last week, it signed a contract with electric energy provider Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska that will wean it off fossil-fuel power entirely.

This milestone is part of Aspen’s larger goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2004 levels by 2020 and to 80 per cent below 2004 levels by 2050.

The first two U.S. cities to go 100 per cent renewable are Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas.

Of course, it helps that these three communities are quite small – Burlington has fewer than 50,000 inhabitants and Aspen has just over 6,600.

But many larger cities have similar plans underway, including Vancouver, B.C. Earlier this year, Vancouver’s city council promised to switch to renewable energy for electricity, heating and cooling, and transportation by 2050. The city’s electricity supply could be 100 per cent renewable within a few years.   

About 16.9 per cent of Canada’s energy supply currently comes from renewable sources. The majority of the country’s electricity is already renewable, thanks to abundant sources of hydro power.

Elsewhere, San Diego and San Francisco in California have also pledged to reach 100 per cent renewable energy, as have Sydney, Australia and Copenhagen, Denmark. The state of Hawaii also hopes to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045.

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, already produces all of its electricity and heat from renewable power, largely from hydroelectricity and geothermal energy.