The project’s Adopt-a-Cabin sponsorships, on sale for $1,000 per gondola season, or $1,500 for an entire year, offer sponsoring businesses (or families) either a prominent advertisement or photograph in their gondola cabin showing their support for a clean, green gondola.
“First, 100 percent of donations will go towards putting new, renewable energy projects in the ground,” said Deanna Drew, the town’s director of plazas and environmental services, “with nothing taken out for commissions or advertising, something that very few charitable causes can claim.
“Mountain Village will pay for the operating costs for the new project so that all donated funds can be spent on renewable energy projects. Another benefit to the new project will be a stronger relationship with Mountain Village’s electricity provider and co-op, San Miguel Power Association. The town believes that by increasing the amount of renewable energy produced in the region, it will increase the value of the co-op for its members, and ultimately decrease the price of clean energy in the future.”
Energy projects funded through the Green Gondola Project will be selected based on return on investment and actual amount of clean energy produced.
“With the restructuring, the town is expanding the project area to the entire San Miguel Power Association service territory, so it will have more options for maximizing the energy produced. The town is also looking at hydropower and wind potential so that selected projects can give the gondola the best bang for the buck.”
San Miguel Power Association’s service territory covers seven counties, over 3,600 square miles, and includes 13,000 meters. Currently, SMPA collects about $100,000 annually for its Green Blocks Offset Program. Funds collected for this program finance rebates and grants for renewable energy projects throughout the region. Mountain Village and the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association invest $20,000 annually in Green Blocks to offset 100 percent of the gondola’s electricity use, and are considered a major contributor to the Green Blocks Offset Program. According to Drew, the town will continue to support local renewable programs like this one, but prefers and intends to move away from offsets as new renewable energy projects become available.
“Offsets and Renewable Energy Credits, also known as RECS, can be confusing,” says Drew. “The town wants Green Gondola Project donors to get tangible results for their contributions. To do so, the town will implement and support new, renewable projects in Mountain Village and the surrounding region.”
The intent for the original Green Gondola Campaign was to fund the installation of solar panels on the roof of Gondola Station Mountain Village. The array will generate a small percentage of the gondola’s energy, and will be a highly visible educational tool for the community.
“The town believes education and awareness is an important first step in these early stages of the project. We intend to honor the intent of the original program and the original donors with the installation of solar panels on the gondola station roof.” An anonymous donor has already contributed $10,000 to the project.
The gondola uses about two million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The Green Gondola Project goal is to match that amount with new, renewable energy produced in the gondola’s service territory.
“It will be a great challenge that will take a committed effort from the community at large over an extended period of time,” Drew says.
Future Green Gondola Projects funds will go towards local renewable energy projects that will generate a larger percentage of the gondola’s electricity, such as micro-hydropower turbines in town water lines, the purchase of solar panels for the upcoming community solar farm, or more solar panels on the gondola statio
“Ideally, all of the Green Gondola renewable energy projects would be in Mountain Village or Telluride, but by working with SMPA we can consider projects in the region as well,” Drew says.
Mountain Village will focus its marketing efforts locally before introducing the project to the surrounding region. Drew says donating to the project is a great way to invest in local renewable energy and she is hoping that all residents and visitors whose lives are touched by the gondola will make room in their personal budgets for an annual contribution.
Donations to the New Green Gondola Project, both large and small, will be accepted at donation boxes outside the various gondola terminals, and via check. Checks may be dropped off or mailed to Mountain Village Town Hall, 455 Mountain Village Boulevard, Suite A, Mountain Village, 81435. For more information, please contact Drew at firstname.lastname@example.org.