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Colorado-based ski industry leader Vail Resorts is the state’s top purchaser of renewable-energy credits (RECs), according to a recent report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the company ranks 25th in the nation.
Not to be outdone by its up-valley neighbor Vail, the mountain town of Avon, 10 miles to the west, is also considering building a wood gasification biomass power plant that would consume beetle-kill trees and provide hot-water heat and electricity throughout town. Both cities are now on the hunt to capture renewable energy dollars from the federal stimulus package with innovative but proven technologies and a bevy of dead trees to fuel the projects.
It's hard to imagine nearly 2 million acres of dead and dying lodgepole pine trees being anything more than a terrible eyesore and potential fuel for a catastrophic wildfire. But Vail Town Councilman Mark Gordon says those trees could provide nearly 100 percent of the ski resort town's hot water and electricity needs, and he envisions a biomass gasification power plant becoming a model for the rest of the state.
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