Aspen Skiing Company joins Bill Koch and others to unveil innovative methane-fueled power plant

By Real Aspen
Real AspenNovember 10, 2012
SOMERSET — The Aspen Skiing Company and four of the region's energy companies on Friday unveiled what they called the first waste-methane-to-energy power plant west of the Mississippi River.

Bill Koch's Oxbow Mining LLC., Vessels Coal Gas, Gunnison Energy, and Holy Cross Energy joined SkiCo to build a $6 million power plant that will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of 2,000 homes, or the equivalent of the energy needed to power SkiCo's four mountains, three hotels and 17 restaurants.

The three-Megawatt power plant at Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine will generate electricity by capturing and combusting waste methane gas emitted from the mine. Of the active underground coal mines in the United States, Elk Creek will be the second to generate electricity from waste methane.

Aspen Skiing Co. President Mike Kaplan speaking in Somerset on Friday.
Photo courtesy of the Aspen Skiing Company

“The partners in this project represent a diverse cross section of America,” said Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Company, which operates Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk ski areas. “We work in different industries and live in different communities. But we’re proud to come together to do something good for Western Colorado. Using an otherwise wasted resource we can make electricity for homes, schools and businesses and in the process possibly spark a new American industry.”

Vessels Coal Gas CEO Tom Vessels, who is one of the major architects behind the project, believes Colorado’s mine methane resource could generate as much as 150 MW of electricity.

Mike Ludlow, executive vice president of Oxbow, said he was pleased that such a diverse group of businesses could join forces to utilize innovation and technology to generate electricity from an unused resource, which will generate revenues for the Federal, State and County. The Elk Creek Mine currently employs 340 miners.

“This project is useful and rational. It recovers natural gas from a working coal mine that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere and converts it to electricity for a customer who needs it. The project is a result of Vessels’, Oxbow’s, Holy Cross’ and Aspen Skiing Company’s cooperation and teamwork – two qualities that are essential for people with different backgrounds and objectives to successfully create a product that benefits everybody,” Oxbow CEO Bill Koch said.

VNR - Coal Mine Methane Project - 11.9.12 from Aspen/Snowmass on Vimeo.


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