Aspen plans to buy more clean' electricity

ASPEN About 1991, Aspen chose to return to the practice of when it was a silver-mining town, tapping local creeks and rivers for hydroelectric power. Now, the city gets 57 percent of its electricity from hydro or wind generation, with the balance of 43 percent coming from conventional coal-fired power plants.

Now, the city is getting ready to push the percentage of "clean" energy to 80 percent, even if the alternatives cost a smidgen more. Although it's not a done deal, a report in The Aspen Times suggests that electrical rates, now unchanged for 12 years, will be increased to pay for the added purchase from alternative sources. The city is one of the several thousand municipalities in the United States that is also an electrical utility.

The city is also looking at encouraging conservation by charging those residential customers who use the most power to pay the highest incremental cost. Currently, all residential consumers pay the same rate.

The underlying premise for all this is to reduce Aspen's part in creating greenhouse gases. Emissions from coal-fired plants have also been implicated in such unpleasantries as acid rain and has been implicated in reduced snowfall.

Some say Summit County smoking ban bad move

SUMMIT COUNTY The ban on smoking at bars, restaurants and other enclosed public places went into effect in June in most of Summit County. There are, reports the Summit Daily News , some unhappy campers out there.

"Tourists are just angry they have to go outside," said Scott Jackson, owner of the Goat, a bar in Keystone. "But locals, who are family to us, who used to spend their after-work hours with us to have a cigarette and a Pabst, they are going home for a smoke and a Pabst in front of their TVs."

Jackson wants an amendment to allow smoking after 10 p.m.

But one of the individuals who helped get voter approval for the bans, both in the unincorporated county and individual towns, says such a move would miss the point. "The biggest point of the ban in the first place is to protect the health of workers, visitors and residents. To allow smoking at any time goes against that."

Sustainable trophy home constructed in Telluride

TELLURIDE At 2,500 square feet, the new Cutler Bench house overlooking the San Miguel River about 10 miles west of Telluride isn't what most people would consider a "trophy" house. Nice? Yes, but not sprawling big.

But it is quite a trophy in another way, explains The Telluride Watch . From start to finish, the builder tried to use the least environmentally impactful techniques and materials, a concept labeled "sustainable."

For starters, contractors Glen Harcourt and Stephen Jallad erected two-kilowatt solar panels to give them the electricity they needed to power their tools. For backup, they set up a generator to be powered by biodiesel. However, the backup generator ran only 133 hours during the 13 months of construction.

Builders solicited wood guaranteed not culled from clear cutting, and when possible they used wood recycled from other sources, such as old bridges. All of this added 10 to 15 percent to the project's cost. No mention of the buyer in the article.

Hiker dies of hypothermia outside Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. It wasn't a grizzly bear that killed him, although a grizzly did nibble on his body after he was dead. Instead, it was probably his decision to continue hiking through the night, off trail and still wet, that caused the demise of 24-year-old David Anderson.

Hypothermia, noted the Jackson Hole News & Guide in telling the story, can cause a delirium that results in bad decisions.

Anderson and a friend had been hiking toward a fire lookout when they became confused. After camping one night, they were retracing their steps back to the lookout the second day when the missing man got off trail again.

What motivated Anderson and his companion to leave the trail was not clear to searchers who easily retraced Anderson's route because of the impressions left by the soles of his Merrill boots. Perhaps he thought he was taking a short-cut to the lookout. But instead he wandered in another direction. Later, he crossed another clearly marked trail, but did not stay on it, and instead ended up wading through a creek, sometimes waist deep.

That's what ultimately did him in. Out for a second night, he did not get into his sleeping bag and get warm as the temperature dropped down to the 30s, but instead kept rambling, bloodied by a tumble that fractured a vertebrae in his neck and caused other injuries. Finally, he laid down in a meadow and died of hypothermia. He was only an hour's walk from a highway.

compiled by Allen Best





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