More than 900 people and 111 businesses support a petition calling for the city to commit to transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.
Advocates presented the signatures to the Durango City Council on Tuesday and called on the city to work with La Plata Electric Association on the petition’s goals. Concerned residents want 80 percent of the city’s electricity to be generated locally and complete the transition to renewable energy by 2050.
“I know there is a cost to do the transition, but there is also a cost to inaction,” advocate Susan Atkinson said.
A member of Durango Energy Future, Lissa Ray, said she encountered little opposition while gathering signatures.
Local First Managing Director Monique DiGiorgio and others asked the city to start a conversation with LPEA about the renewable energy goals on Wednesday, during a previously scheduled meeting.
Mayor Dick White, a longtime advocate for climate-friendly policies, voiced his personal support for the goals.
“I really want to see us have a strategy and a road map for how to get there,” he said.
He committed to starting the discussion with LPEA, but noted that the Tri-State Generation and Transmission board needs to shift toward supporting renewable energy. LPEA buys its power wholesale from Tri-State.
“Thanks for the enthusiasm that you have brought to this project. It will help us all do our jobs,” White said.
Generating energy locally could benefit the economy because about $70 million is paid to Tri-State annually for power. “That money could be recirculating within our community, creating jobs,” DiGiorgio said.
Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Inc. in Taos, New Mexico, bought out its contract with Tri-State, and it is purchasing cheaper renewable power through a wholesale supplier, she said.
Investing in renewable energy would be a good long-term investment as the cost of fossil fuel energy continues to rise, she said. “We still hope that LPEA will provide the leadership needed to explore these options,” DiGiorgio said.