Durango goes with green power

Durango turned over a green leaf last week, becoming the first governmental entity in the region to commit to purchasing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. By “going green,” the City of Durango will build on an already strong commitment to environmentally friendly practices.

For nearly 10 years, the city has purchased 10 percent of its power from “green” sources; the decision to go 100 percent green has been in the works with La Plata Electric Association for several months, and within the next month or two, the city will begin buying electricity exclusively made from wind power.

“We are excited about the decision to go 100 percent green,” said City Manager Bob Ledger. “This is the right thing to do, and we are pleased to be leading the way.”

Former Mayor Sidny Zink added, “I think it’s important for the city to be a leader, to set an example, in taking advantage of opportunities like LPEA’s Green Power. This move is in line with other city efforts, like LEED Certification for the library, to shake off complacency and recognize our responsibility to the future.”

The city will go one further and work with LPEA representatives to reduce energy bills through energy efficiency, conservation and electricity load and demand side management. In addition, Durango will utilize LPEA’s “Time-of-Use” rate options to help off-set the added expenditure of going with wind power. The move makes Durango the first governmental entity in LPEA’s service area, which includes La Plata and Archuleta counties, to commit to 100 percent green power

“We are all becoming increasingly aware of how important ‘buying local’ is for our economy,” said LPEA CEO Greg Munro. “And we applaud the city for making the extra effort.”

With the city’s commitment, LPEA will increase its commitment to green power purchases by roughly 40 percent, substantially furthering the effort to meet the mandates of the recently passed HB 1281. The new law requires electric cooperatives to adhere to an established renewable energy standard that includes “1 percent by 2008.” With the city’s commitment, LPEA will come close to hitting that goal well in advance.

The recent move joins numerous other measures to lighten the city’s environmental footprint. In 2006, City Council signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. In addition, the city boasts hybrid and biodiesel fleet vehicles; a comprehensive recycling program that processed 3,200 tons of waste in 2005; a public transportation system that accounts for 275,000 passenger trips per year; and numerous other efforts including open space preservation, urban tree planting and parks and trails creation and preservation.

The green power option is available to all LPEA members. Customers who request purchase of green power receive it at the co-op’s cost, $1.25 per 100-kilowatt-hour block per month, and purchasing one block of green power costs consumers less than five cents per day. To sign up for green power or explore additional energy efficiency programs, visit www.lpea.coop.

Iron Horse implements rider cap

Not everyone will get to ride to Silverton this Memorial Day weekend. The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic has decided to implement a cap on the number of riders in the Durango-to-Silverton road race and tour this year.

The total number of riders allowed in both the road and tour will not exceed 2,500 according to the new limit. The decision was based on several factors including rider safety, community impacts to Silverton and Durango, demands on law enforcement and ensuring a quality experience for the participants.

In the past three years the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic rider numbers have grown steadily topping out at 2,300 riders last year. However, IHBC director Gaige Sippy said that organizers want to give Durango locals the first crack at the starting line.

“We are announcing the cap locally first because many locals wait until the Friday before the event to register, and this year that may not be an option,” he said. “We will be distributing this information locally first and then regionally and nationally.”

More than 1,000 riders have already signed up for the race, and registration is 40 percent higher than last year since January.

Sippy added that the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic appreciates the support and signing of permits by local and state law enforcement agencies; as well as the support of the Colorado Department of Transportation to allow for the current road closure during the event. Maintaining control of the event is a requirement of the IHBC to receive permission to hold the event.To register for the event, visit www.ironhorsebicycle classic.com.

Falls Creek paving plan approved

A plan for 2 miles of new blacktop just northwest of Durango has resulted in mixed local emotions over the last year. Now, the Forest Service has approved a plan to convey Falls Creek Road, also known as County Road 205, to La Plata County. The county plans to chip and seal the road.

The road in question links up with the Falls Creek Subdivision through the Hidden Valley area, which contains several trails, vistas and archeological sites. The Falls Creek Homeowners Association first approached La Plata County commissioners in 2004 about the transfer. Commissioners initially denied the request, but late in 2005 approved it on the contingency that the Homeowners Association and Forest Service fund an upgrade of the road to county standards. In exchange, the county would take over jurisdiction of the 2 miles and provide labor and equipment. The agency favored the trade since it does not want to be in the business of maintaining roads to residential developments.

However, the idea of transferring ownership of the short section of road was not as controversial as the county’s interest in paving it. A large contingent, including Turtle Lake and Falls Creek residents, objected to the upgrade on the basis of safety and quality-of-life issues.

In its approval, the Forest Service tried to strike a middle ground. The agency called for chip and seal instead of pavement; no widening or additional improvement to the road; and that the county undertake a traffic-control study on the stretch to remedy congestion and speed issues. While work is scheduled to begin this summer, the Forest Service is accepting public comments on the decision through the end of May. More information can be found at: www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan/projects/projects.shtml.

Virginia Tech vigil to be held

This week’s tragic events at Virginia Tech reverberated throughout the world and into the Durango community. The weight of the terrible day also had a profound effect on the administration, faculty, staff and students of Fort Lewis College.

To help remember and honor those who were lost, the Fort Lewis College Newman Club, along with other campus ministries, will hold a Virginia Tech Vigil at the Fort Lewis College Chapel on Fri., April 20, at 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

In addition, a moment of silence has been planned for FLC’s Spring Commencement on Sat., April 28. The Fort Lewis College Counseling Center has also made itself available to assist any students in need of support during the difficult time.

– compiled by Will Sands

 

In this week's issue...

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Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners
 

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale