Community Mediation Session for Aspen’s Castle Creek Energy Center

CCEC Proposal (click to enlarge)

Beginning in 2010, Public Counsel participated in a series of efforts to engage the community and the City of Aspen in a public process to examine the environmental, economic and other impacts of the proposed Castle Creek Energy Center. These efforts include beginning to identify alternatives that may achieve the City’s “clean energy” goals while protecting the aquatic ecosystems of Castle and Maroon Creeks.

Public Counsel worked with the Pitkin County Healthy Rivers & Streams Board to initiate and fund the Independent Review of CCEC project assumptions and recommendations, utilizing a team of outside experts in water law, hydropower, hydrology, and aquatic biology.  The expert reports were completed January 21, 2011 and challenged a number of critical project claims.  The reports were also submitted to FERC before the public comment deadline on the City’s draft conduit exemption application. Public Counsel funded and convened a Community Mediation session at the Aspen Institute on March 22, 2011, designed to revisit the proposed project to better protect healthy functioning stream ecosystems.  The session was facilitated by Owen Olpin and attended by senior city staff, nonprofit and community leaders, clean energy and hydropower consultants, and streamflow protection experts.

Owen Olpin

While no binding settlement agreement ensued, a report of the ideas generated at the session and endorsed by most participants was released by Mr. Olpin on May 25, 2011.  In response, the City in June announced that (a) it was no longer going to seek exemption from FERC licensing but would instead seek a minor power project license with NEPA review and that (b) science-based decision-making by a Board of Experts would govern all creek diversions for hydropower production following a “slow start.”

Public Counsel acknowledges that the principal funding for this project has been generously provided by General Service Foundation, New-Land Foundation, Rodell Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Ruth H. Brown Foundation and other generous individual donors.


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