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Mountain Energy

BY Susan Moran | February 10, 2017 | Feature Features

Innovation, advocacy and the nuts and bolts of green energy. Meet some of the Aspen players.
Chip Comins, founder and CEO of AREI.

The splendor of Aspen’s iconic mountains have always lured tourists, skiers and artists to Aspen. But the city also earns accolades for innovative organizations and visionaries who are helping to wean America and the world from planet-warming fossil fuels to a cleaner, more sustainable future. Over recent decades, certain visionaries have turned Aspen into one of the nation’s greenest cities.

Aspen is the third municipality in the United States to draw all its electricity from renewable energy sources, a target the city reached in 2015 while still allowing residents to pay less for clean electricity than national and state average rates.

“I couldn’t be prouder that we’re at the forefront of climate action, with programs aimed specifically at reducing our carbon footprint,” says David Hornbacher, director of utilities and environmental initiatives for the city.

How can a city known for its excess tout itself as a model for green living? Four local organizations in particular have committed to making it happen—the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, the Aspen Skiing Company, the American Renewable Energy Institute and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Here’s a look at Aspen’s most innovative environmental players.

American Renewable Energy Institute
Big ideas become reality in the Aspen area largely because people are willing to shake hands across the political aisle to make things happen, according to Chip Comins, founder and CEO of AREI. The Aspen nonprofit organization is devoted to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. Its flagship event, the American Renewable Energy Day Summit (known as AREDAY), is a multiday annual event held in Snowmass Village that draws the likes of Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens, and spawns networking, investments and alliances in clean-energy initiatives, like the Clean Tax Cuts, which were introduced to the world at the 2016 AREDAY Summit by the Grace Richardson Foundation. “We’re not red; we’re not blue; but we’re green—as in the color of trees and the color of money,” says Comins.

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