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Backcountry fumes and fuming



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Lower Valley Energy will not need the increased electricity immediately. In the meantime, it hopes to dampen demand by encouraging technology improvements in homes and businesses. As well, directors are talking about alternative energy sources, such as by tapping geothermal sources, but also doing something that in the past has received a chilly reception in Jackson Hole, installing hydro turbines in a dam located in Grand Teton National Park. Opponents say such things do not belong in national parks.


New coal plant debated

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Gunnison and Crested Butte residents continue to debate whether their local electrical co-operative should contract for power for new coal-fired power plants in Kansas being planned by an electrical wholesaler called Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Both the Crested Butte councilors and the Gunnison County commissioners have advised the contract be rejected.

The Crested Butte News reports that both sides in the debate seem to agree that change is needed in how we produce electricity, but differ on how to get there. Directors seem inclined to follow the lead of another Colorado rural co-op, Durango-based La Plata Electric, which believes it can better influence policy by remaining within the Tri-State fold. Tri-State provides power to 44 electrical co-operatives in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming and some adjoining states.

But Glenwood Springs-based Holy Cross Electric several years ago broke away from Tri-State, and now Delta-Montrose Electric has also refused pushing harder down the coal path.

San Miguel Power Association is still undecided whether to commit to the extended contract. The Telluride Watch reports that the organization’s general manager, Bobby Blair, is urging his group remain with Tri-State. Tri-State, he said, is now looking at renewables, mostly likely a wind farm. “We have been asking for it, asking for it, asking for it. We need to get on their side instead of beating them over the head with it.”

Some speakers at a meeting in Gunnison said Tri-State needs more beating.

Samuel Sorkin, of Gunnison, said the action on global warming begins at the grassroots level. “The message must go upward, he said. “Tri-State won’t send it down. We’re going to be the catalyst.”

“I urge you to vote no on this proposal so we can be on the right side of history,” said Baile Griffith, of Crested Butte.

But Dave Houghton, a director of the Gunnison County Electric Association, agrees with others in Southwest Colorado in arguing that to get Tri-State to change. it must be from within the organization.