MOUNTAIN VILLAGE — In 2009, the Mountain Village Town Council pledged to reduce the town’s greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020. At a recent council meeting, the town’s Environmental Services Director Deanna Drew reported that 2012 emissions were down five percent from 2010 totals, one quarter of the way to meeting the target.
“Our emissions were 6,477 metric tons CO2 for 2012, down 357 tons from 2010. We have another 1,000 tons to go,” Drew calculated. “We can do it.”
Drew credited the town for “taking advantage of the proverbial ‘low-hanging fruit’” by implementing relatively inexpensive projects like replacing inefficient lighting systems.
“But soon, these projects will be exhausted, and we will need to consider our historical operations and evaluate more long-term and costly projects to achieve our goals,” Drew said.
Drew said that future reductions will need to come from big-ticket projects like developing on-site renewable and alternative energy programs such as micro-hydro turbines and solar panels. Drew also discussed the possibility of converting electric heating systems to run on natural gas at the Village Court Apartments and converting Mountain Village vehicles to run on compressed natural gas. Council also discussed the appropriateness of disconnecting snowmelt systems and reducing gondola running hours as possible reduction measures.
Greenhouse gas emissions would have been smaller in 2012, Drew explained, without the large amount of water and electricity required for snowmaking in the early months the 2012-2013 ski season. “There will always be variables that impact our annual emissions, including those that we can’t control, like the weather,” Drew said.
To counter dry winters, the ski resort purchases water from the Town of Telluride with the help of Mountain Village water delivery systems. Delivering the water consumes large amounts of energy and challenges Mountain Village’s emissions reduction pledge. The Telluride Ski Resort, however, is working with Mountain Village to identify and correct operational inefficiencies and reduce emissions. The ski company’s improvements include constantly replacing old and leaking pipes and replacing fan guns that can drastically improve energy usage.
“Mountain Village is constantly making improvements to its water delivery system, which in turn benefits the Telluride Ski Resort’s snowmaking operations,” Drew explained. “We’re currently replacing four pumps at the San Miguel Pump Station in town with more efficient ones and eliminating the need for a booster pump near Goronno, saving resources and emissions.”
Drew applauded the substantial partnership of the Telluride and Mountain Village Homeowners Association and the Town of Mountain Village for funding and operating the gondola, the hallmark commuter service between downtown Telluride and Mountain Village. The program saves an estimated 45,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Similarly, Mountain Village’s commuter shuttle program eliminates another 350 tons of harmful vehicle emissions per year.
Drew concluded by telling council that Mountain Village government operations comprise only five percent of the community’s energy use, and to make a considerable decrease in the Village’s CO2 emissions “a plan with policies and incentives to reduce the entire community’s energy use must be considered.”