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Aspen Wins DOE Wind Power Pioneer Award

Aspen Wins DOE Wind Power Pioneer Award

Date: 6/24/2008

Location: Aspen, CO

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Aspen Municipal Electric Utility (Aspen) is receiving the 2008 Wind Power Pioneer Award. The Colorado municipal utility was cited for its leadership, innovation and ongoing commitment to incorporating wind power into its portfolio.

A panel of wind, government, and public power experts from across the United States selected Aspen Municipal Electric from 13 public power utilities nominated for the award this year. This sixth annual award was created in conjunction with American Public Power Association (APPA) and the Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments (DEED) Program to recognize public power wind pioneers and leaders. Steve Lindenberg of DOE's Wind Powering America Program will present the award at APPA's National Conference in New Orleans on June 24.

With only 2,600 customers and a 14-MW peak load, the small utility buys almost $1 million worth of wind power annually. The purchases are rate-based, rather than part of a green pricing program. Aspen funds the purchases with a small hike in electricity rates, unanimously approved by the City Council, and with the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP). The program requires homeowners who wish to exceed the city's strict energy "budget" for new buildings either to install a renewable energy system or to pay a renewable energy mitigation fee. Since it was launched in 2002, REMP has raised more than $7 million.

Aspen made its first wind purchase in 1998, buying one turbine's output from the Medicine Bow Wind Farm in Nebraska. In 2002, the city persuaded the 58 members of the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, its wholesale power supplier, to support the construction of the $14 million wind plant at Kimball, Nebraska. "Our purchase of wind power is unique because it is one of many steps Aspen is taking to get to carbon neutrality for its utility operations," said Utilities Director Phil Overeynder.

Concerned about climate change, the City Council voted unanimously in 2005 to quadruple its Kimball wind energy purchase to 20,000,000 kilowatt-hours, the output of four wind turbines. This purchase avoids greenhouse gas emissions of 40 million pounds per year. Aspen Municipal Electric continues to aggressively green its energy mix, supplementing wind power with locally-owned hydropower facilities.

The American Public Power Association is the national service organization representing the nation's more than 2,000 community- and state-owned electric utilities and it cosponsors the Wind Pioneer Awards program. Previous winners have included municipal utilities in Hull, Mass., Waverly, Iowa and Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more at www.publicpower.org.

Wind Powering America is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The program is committed to dramatically increasing the use of wind energy in the United States. EERE through its Wind Powering America effort and other programs will help the nation achieve targeted regional economic development, enhanced power generation options, improved environmental conditions, increased domestic energy supply and national security. For more information, visit Wind Powering America.

This information was last updated on December 08, 2013