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Mountain News: Housing, income gap widens

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EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – The steadily worsening housing crunch continues to get ink in the Vail Daily. The newspaper revisits a report produced last December by a team from the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit group. Eagle County — an area dominated by Vail but also including a portion of Aspen’s suburbs — will need 11,500 new homes in the next 20 years, most of them with lower price points, the report says.

The report maintains that the market alone will not deliver the housing, and called for a consortium of governments to address the issue. It also calls for policies requiring lower income housing in conjunction with the higher-end “market” housing.

Eagle County’s population, now edging northward from 50,000, is projected to surpass 80,000 within 18 years. In contrast, 18 years ago it was at less than 23,000.

Meanwhile, in Jackson Hole, Jonathan Schechter reports a marked pinch in the labour supply this year. Judging by the classified advertisements, he calculates the demand by early July was 25 per cent higher than it was a year ago.

 

Homeowners resisting solar

CARBONDALE, Colo. – Solar collectors are surging in popularity in the Roaring Fork Valley, despite discouraging words from homeowners associations, reports The Aspen Times.

Holy Cross Electric, the electrical co-op that serves the Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Vail areas, offers rebates to people who install photovoltaic and other alternative energy systems. The rebate fund, $150,000 last year, is being boosted to $380,000, although directors expect even that fund will be drained.

But neighbours are objecting when some solar proponents attempt to erect photovoltaic collectors, says the Times. The newspaper cites instances from Aspen Highlands downvalley 55 miles to New Castle, where one subdivision has an outright ban.

Rachael Connor, an instructor at Carbondale’s Solar Energy International, said society has determined that solar panels are “ugly.” That view is slowly changing as more people turn to the sun for energy, but Connor foresees an increase in solar showdowns before the public embraces solar fixtures.

However, at least in Colorado, solar proponents have the law on their side. A state statute prohibits covenants from banning solar energy devices, although the law does allow “reasonable aesthetic provisions” that do not significantly increase the cost of a device.

 

Students get biodiesel into buses

BANFF, Alberta – What began as something of a science experiment by high school students at Banff is resulting in the addition of biodiesel to be used in the 28-bus fleet in the local school district. The buses are expected to use a five per cent component of biodiesel in winter, when freezing temperatures limit full use of biodiesel, but a 20 to 50 per cent mixture is possible in summer months, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook. All of this is coming by 2010.

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