Glenwood Springs becomes the 7th U.S. city to use 100% renewable energy
The windy contract signing ceremony this week atop Iron Mountain made Glenwood Springs the seventh city in the U.S. powered entirely by renewable energy.
In the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on Wednesday afternoon, Glenwood Mayor Jonathan Godes and Brad Hans with the Nebraska Municipal Energy Agency (MEAN).
“I’m just pleased to announce that, starting on Saturday, June 1st, our electrical supply organization MEAN has partnered with the City of Glenwood Springs to provide 100% renewable energy,” Godes said to applaud the dozens of people present. “We have also managed to take this step without additional rate increases for our citizens.” In April, the City Council unanimously approved the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources from Glenwood Springs Electric through its MEAN wholesale power contract.
The renewable energy intake of the city now includes 6.8 percent of the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) hydroelectric allocation, with the remainder being supplied by MEAN wind energy sources.
The city had received approximately 35% of its power from renewable energy sources since 2013.
According to Matthew Langhorst, Glenwood Director of Public Works, the city was in discussions at first to increase that number to between 40 and 50 %.
However, when MEAN consumers got a new wind-energy farm, the energy agency asked if the city would like to go completely renewable.
“We expanded the Kimball Wind Farm and we had resources to help meet these needs,” Hans said of the wind farm near Kimball, Nebraska, which will supply much of the electricity passed on to Glenwood’s customers, including the amusement park at the top of the mountains.
The renewable switch “saves the environment 77,156 tons of CO2 emissions,” according to a news release. Wednesday’s event, hosted by Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, was a particularly proud moment for park owners Steve and Jeanne Beckley.
The park launched its first cave tour in May 1999 and will become one of the world’s first amusement parks powered entirely by renewable electricity in June 2019.
“This cave… was one of the world’s first caves to be electrically lit 120 years ago,” said Beckley. “It’s really exciting to have this electricity brought to us through renewables in a whole new way.” Colorado Tourism Office Director Cathy Ritter, also attending Wednesday’s event, called the signing a “historic moment.” “We’re standing here, blowing in the wind, talking about the potential of wind power,” Ritter said. “At Colorado Tourism, we can now tell travelers coming to our state that they can stay at any Glenwood Springs hotel, participate in any attraction, eat at any restaurant — and travel sustainably.”