There’s a sign on the west side of U.S. Highway 550 at Animas View Drive that says we are a “Green Energy Community.” If we are, can you find out what percentage of the energy we consume is “green” sourced? I presume that would exclude all energy from fossil fuels, including the fossil fuels used to manufacture and transport the green energy technology. – Tony Palmer
To quote that great amphibious philosopher Kermit the Frog, “it’s not easy being green.”
That was confirmed during Action Line’s call to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
Just for the record, at no time did Action Line demand that the EPA fork over some more dough for the Gold King Mine spill.
When it comes to heavy metals, Action Line won’t be the heavy. Besides, green power has nothing to do with orange rivers.
Anyway, the “Green Energy Community” sign is from the EPA to laud Durango’s participation in its Green Energy Partners program.
The partnership is a voluntary program that “encourages organizations to use green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity generation,” said James Critchfield, manager of the EPA program.
Green power, by the way, means solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact small hydroelectric.
Durango has been a Green Energy Community since 2009, and it’s one of 61 municipalities nationwide so designated.
In fact, “we’re the only Green Energy Community in Colorado,” added our good friend Amber Blake, the city’s director of transportation and sustainability.
Durango is pretty much the Emerald City of green.
That’s because 100 percent of the electricity purchased by the city is green power from La Plata Electric Association’s “Just One Block” program.
By the way, individuals can purchase green power through that program. You buy a 100-kilowatt-hour block of electricity and pay an extra 9 cents per block. Sign up and info at www.lpea.com, and click on “Environment.”
That’s the easy part about being green. What’s not so easy is how to measure it, especially in percentages.
Our friend James at the EPA pointed out that Durango, as a community, chalks up 13.8 percent of its total electrical consumption as coming from green sources.
On the EPA’s list of Green Energy Partners, the city of Durango is shown as having a statistically impossible “103 percent green power.”
How can that be? Is it because the city is giving a statistically impossible 110 percent effort?
So the city buys 100 percent green-power electricity. In the meantime, the city makes 3 percent of its power through on-site generation of renewable energy, including the conversion of methane into electricity at the wastewater treatment plan.
Is that where the 103 percent comes from? Not exactly, said the EPA.
Many of its partners report having more than 100 percent green energy, and the agency is working to fix that calculation.
Sometimes, it’s a discrepancy between prepurchased green power versus the amount actually used. Some groups buy extra to cover transmission and distribution losses.
Anyway, Durango’s 13.8 percent green energy usage rate is good enough to rank No. 28 amongst the EPA’s 61 Green Energy Communities.
That will shock and repulse the Durango Tourism Office – because the tourism office has this fetish for Top 10 lists. Durango is not allowed to be in the 45th percentile. Ever.
In the meantime, does anyone see the irony in having a Green Energy Community sign posted for the benefit of people driving fossil-fuel consuming vehicles into a town that’s trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels?
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if your electricity comes from a biomass generator using organic, free-range, glutten-free, holistic, vegan hemp.