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Proposed Hydroelectric Plant At Center Of Controversy In Aspen

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Castle Creek (credit: CBS)

Castle Creek (credit: CBS)

ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4)- The people who want to protect Colorado’s environment are at odds with those who promote alternative energy. They’re fighting over plans for a new hydroelectric plant in Aspen.

A bond approved in 2007 gave Aspen the green light to build sustainable energy platforms. Plans were made to take water from two creeks and make electricity.

Now the issue on the future of the plant is being put before voters on Nov. 6.

Opponents say that measure was vague and the proposed plant in this building isn’t what they signed up for.

“All that cycle of life starts with the fact that there is water in the stream. If you take the water out of the stream you take it away from the entire set of relationships,” said opponent of the hydroelectric plant Tom Hirsch.

Hirsch said the City of Aspen’s proposed hydroelectric plant below Highway 82 is just a pipe dream because the potential impact on the surrounding environment and ecosystem could be severe.

“They said they can get a theoretical eight percent increase in energy if it functions 12 months a year, which they agree is impossible because of ice issues,” said Hirsch.

The Castle Creek Hydro Plant would pull, what the city claims, is minimal water from Castle Creek and Maroon Creek to create roughly a megawatt of power.

“We think climate is an existential threat to skiing and the Aspen economy and we need to start fixing it somewhere,” said Aspen Ski Company spokesman Auden Schendler.

Aspen Ski Company supports the project.

“Everything that’s been brought to their attention by any constituency has been addressed. They’ve bent over backwards to make sure it’s ecologically sound, to talk about the finances of the project. It’s hard to imagine what else they could do to be good citizens,” said Schendler.

Opponents claim the project has been lazy and misguided from day one without true impacts being assessed.

Those in favor claim it’s a model that if successful, could be copied throughout the country.

The issue has been muddled by some political controversy. The side opposed to the plant has been backed by significant monetary donations.

There was an article published in the Aspen Daily Times on Thursday that stated the debate has strained the relationship between prominent members of the community and the mayor.

RELATED LINKS: www.2Cvoteno.org
www.backyardenergy.co

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