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Last Steep making big moves for the environment with wind power

“I really do believe in renewable energy”

By Adam Broderick

One of Crested Butte’s iconic dining establishments is taking steps to support renewable energy. With 100 percent of the energy it uses now being offset by wind power, The Last Steep has been nationally recognized as part of the Green Power Partnership, a program managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The partnership encourages the voluntary use of green power to reduce environmental impacts and currently has more than 1,300 participating organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies and local, state and federal governments to colleges and universities, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.

To offset its energy use with wind power, The Last Steep partners with Washington, D.C.–based Arcadia Power. Arcadia Power purchases 100 percent renewable energy from partner wind farms across the West and Midwest so no equipment is needed by businesses or individuals that join the partnership. Participants still pull energy from the local grid, but each kWh used is replaced with a clean kWh.

Arcadia promises that for every kWh of electricity used, a kWh of clean energy is produced, and that reliability of electricity from local utilities is not compromised. The company charges a flat per-kWh rate of $0.015, which it claims translates to just a few extra dollars per month on an energy bill.

Kevin Hartigan, co-owner of The Last Steep, says when he first heard about Arcadia the partnership sounded like a good match for his business. “Our electric bill is a little higher to make it happen, so we’re not necessarily saving money, but I believe in renewable energy,” he said. “I sure hope other local businesses will jump on board.”

Danielle Baglivo of Arcadia Power explained the concept as a seamless and affordable way for anyone who pays a utility bill to become 100 percent clean wind–powered and reduce their environmental impact.

Baglivo says the process is very simple: The home or business links its utility account to Arcadia’s platform, and on a month-to-month basis Arcadia purchases the exact amount of kWh they use from its clean energy partners on their partner’s behalf, via the regulated system of Green-e renewable energy credits.

“We have wind farm partners across the country and the wind power goes into their respective sections of the grid,” Baglivo says. For example, one of Arcadia’s projects is close to the border of Wyoming and Colorado, so power produced there gets sold to partners in both states.

Baglivo says Arcadia’s average resident partner pays about $7 per month and the average small business pays about $25 per month to cover their usage 100 percent. She says there are no commitments to sign onto the program; everything is month to month, so it’s very easy to start or stop.

“This is how large corporations such as Apple and Whole Foods have been purchasing their renewable energy to reduce their impact for years, and we have just made this accessible and more affordable than ever for homes, apartments and small businesses in all 50 states to participate in as well,” Baglivo says. “We have been around two years and have thousands of homes and hundreds of businesses participating. Colorado is a Top Five state of ours.”

According to statistics found at www.arcadiapower.com, the average Colorado home uses about 10,000 kWh per year, the equivalent of burning 7,407 pounds of coal or driving 16,418 miles. The company states, “By choosing clean energy, you can drop those numbers to zero.” It also states that linking a new utility account to Arcadia Power gets new partners a $25 gift certificate to The Last Steep. Sounds green all around—saving the planet as well as greenbacks—a win-win for everyone.

“I really do believe in renewable energy,” Hartigan reaffirmed. “We all need to have a conscious shift as a community to look at the big picture.”

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