Glenwood Springs will become the seventh city in the United States powered entirely by renewable energy, and plans to sign the deal 7,100 feet in the sky this week.
“We are very excited to announce that Glenwood Springs will soon be operated on one hundred percent renewable electricity,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said in a recent press release announcing the deal with the city’s wholesale power supplier.
“Many cities and towns across the country have set aggressive targets, and we are doing our part now — our future is now,” he said.
In April, City Council unanimously approved a resolution to purchase Glenwood Springs Electric’s power needs entirely through wind power supplied by the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN).
The MEAN board approved the deal late last week.
The vast majority of Glenwood’s renewable energy will come from wind power supplied by MEAN at generating stations on the eastern plains. However, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) will supply 6.8 percent from hydroelectric renewable power, too.
SIGNING IN THE SKY
On Wednesday, the city and MEAN officials will sign the contract at 2 p.m. at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park; the mountain-top theme park that overlooks the city from atop Iron Mountain at an altitude of over 7,000 feet.
The caverns, as a city electric customer, becomes one of the first amusement parks in the country to be powered 100 percent by renewable sources.
“Our business is centered on nature-based adventure,” Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park owner Steve Beckley said.
“Protecting the environment and natural resources has been our primary goal since we gave our first cave tour in May 1999. We are really pleased to be one of the first theme parks in the U.S. to have all of its electricity provided from renewable sources.”
The park will offer free gondola rides between 1 and 2 p.m. Wednesday for the signing ceremony. Additionally, the first 50 event attendees will receive free LED light bulbs from Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER).
“Sustainable tourism is an important issue these days and this move is a huge step in the right direction for Glenwood Springs as a whole,” Beckley, who owns the park with his wife Jeanne, added.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOUR ELECTRIC BILL
Following the mountain-top signing, the 100 percent renewable contract will officially take effect on Saturday.
According to a previous city staff report, with the new renewable energy contract, the city’s cost per megawatt-hour (MWh) will drop from $51 to $46, and save the city $500,000 per year.
However, “There will be no change in fees for city of Glenwood Springs residents,” Director of Public Works Matthew Langhorst said in a separate interview.
According to Langhorst, the city needs to design and construct a fourth electrical substation on the west side of town that carries with it a price tag of $2 to $2.5 million dollars.
“The main thing for residents to know is that the electricity that they purchase from the city is now supplied by one hundred percent renewable resources, instead of a mix of renewable and non renewable resources,” Langhorst said.
Glenwood Springs has been 35 percent renewable on the electric grid since 2013, with 5 percent in hydro and 30 percent in wind purchases from MEAN, which has been the city’s contracted bulk power supplier since 2012.
“We will be sitting down with finance next week to complete a full electrical department financial review to see if, after four to five years of paying for the new substation, we can do a rate adjustment, or possibly even before,” Langhorst explained.
Chamber Resort Association President and CEO Angie Anderson quickly praised the contract between the city and MEAN.
“We are thrilled that Glenwood Springs is on the cutting-edge utilizing one hundred percent renewable energy,” Anderson stated in the news release. “This commitment to sustainability makes our community shine in a positive way.”