Today in New West news: train line opens between Denver and Westminster, Colorado; e-waste at the University of Montana, and Wyoming wind power.
According to the Denver Business Journal, the city’s Regional Transportation District is opening another new line—this time between Denver Union Station and nearby Westminster. We previously reported on the development of the A Line between downtown and Denver International Airport. The average travel time between Denver and Westminster will be 11 minutes. From the DBJ:
The station has a parking garage that was built as part of a $70 million infrastructure upgrade of the surrounding area, said John Hall, Westminster’s economic development director.
“Our vision is for this to be a new mixed-use urban neighborhood,” Hall said.
“It’s not a Park-n-Ride, with asphalt parking. It has structure parking with land uses around it tied to retail, office and residential. We really want to leverage that 11-minute commute time from downtown. This is a great place to do business and it’s a great place to be,” Hall said.
Dot Miller, the president of the Westminster Chamber of Commerce, said the arrival of the train has sparked conversations about filling in the “last-mile” gap between the train station and people’s homes and jobs in Westminster.
“The business community and the chamber are talking about the best commutable areas, it’s great for Westminster to bring in large employers and employees and be able to say we have transportation available to get people to their jobs,” Miller said.
The Westminster line is the first segment of a total of 41-mile commuter rail line to Louisville, Boulder and Longmont that RTD has said it will build eventually when money becomes available.
The B line’s average weekday ridership in 2016 is expected to be about 800 people.
Over in Montana, according to the Missoulian, the city’s University of Missoula campus is looking to make the most out of their electronic waste. Indeed, rather than ship out old printers, telephones, computers, and other equipment out to California (which the campus has done, historically), one area resident is hoping to start a recycling business nearby. From the Missoulian:
Shelly Mitchell, who received her recycling technologies certificate from Missoula College this year, used to work in the recycling center at UM, and she hopes to start a business based partly on the waste recycling process she observed on campus as a former student employee.
As she sees it, the electronics stored outside through inclement weather have the potential to leach toxic chemicals, and they shouldn’t be left outside. By her estimate, the equipment also represents some $200,000 in lost revenue annually, money UM isn’t recouping in gold and other valuables.
Yet students pay a recycling fee for laborers to haul the printers and other equipment across campus, she said.
“You’re wasting a huge amount of student money and getting nothing for the e-waste,” Mitchell said.
John Smith, a sales representative with Opportunity Resources’ E-Cycling, has his eyes on the same mountains of trash and treasure. Smith said Opportunity Resources, which provides jobs and support for people with disabilities, can handle the hefty load at UM.
“That would be something that we would love to do for the university,” Smith said.
UM recycling coordinator Edi Stan said he isn’t opposed to having a local shop do the work if it meets certain standards, and he also offers at least one observation about electronic waste on campus this summer.
“It looked like a hot topic, suddenly,” Stan said.
Reception of Mitchell’s proposal has been mixed, with some criticism coming from campus officials. Peggy Schalk, of UM Facilities Services, for instance, says if Mitchell’s proposal gets up and running, she would have to rely on UM laborers to move e-waste, to preserve campus security. “We tightly control our keys,” Schalk told the Missoulian.
Finally, down in Wyoming, we’ve been following developments regarding Denver-based Power Company of Wyoming’s plans to build a 1,0000-turbine wind farm in the Cowboy State. Indeed, the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, slated for south of Rawlins, has been tantalizing state regulators, legislators, and residents since it was first proposed in 2008. Emphasis on tantalizing, since it has run into numerous setbacks and hindrances, according to the Casper Star Tribune:
“We easily had two classes of high school students, two successive classes of graduating high school students, who were convinced wind power was going to be their future,” said [David] Throgmorton, director of the Carbon County Higher Education Center.
When it didn’t come to pass, it was hard to keep the enthusiasm up,” Throgmorton said. Many of the higher education center’s students have since moved on to robotics and 3-D printing.
Eight years on, Power Company of Wyoming’s plans remain a testament to the potential and the challenges of transforming America’s top coal-producing state into a wind energy leader.
The Denver-based firm is nearing the end of a laborious federal permitting process. The company has said it could begin work on a haul road and infrastructure as early as this year.
But company officials say their plans could be derailed by state lawmakers’ proposal to raise Wyoming’s wind production tax. Legislators say raising the tax could help stem a $600 million revenue shortfall, but Power Company of Wyoming representatives warn higher taxes could make the $5 billion project economically unfeasible.
“If you asked does Wyoming, A, support wind or, B, hate wind, you’d have to say B,” said former Wyoming Infrastructure Authority Director Loyd Drain, who now consults for a Venezuelan wind developer seeking to build an 840-megawatt wind farm near Medicine Bow. “It’s so shortsighted. We could have more wind development than we have today had we not tried to drive wind out of the state.”
The National Renewable Energy Lab estimates that 50 percent of the best winds in the continental U.S. are in the Cowboy State. In stretches of south-central Wyoming, where Power Company of Wyoming has proposed erecting 1,000 turbines, the average annual wind speed can reach 26 miles per hour.
Yet no new wind capacity has been installed here since 2010, even as wind installations boomed nationally. A lack of transmission capacity has hindered new development in Wyoming. Permitting facilities on public land takes years. And there is this: Many in Wyoming simply do not like the sight of windmills or what they represent — a transition away from the fossil fuels that have long powered the state.
The Tribune reports that, despite the delay on getting CCSM off the ground, wind is picking up elsewhere in the state. Viridis Eolia Corp. (the Venezuelan company mentioned) is set to bring 30 megawatts of wind power online in Carbon County next year, with more projects slated to start up between now and 2022.
Wind is picking up elsewhere, as well; the Tribune notes that a Chicago-based firm is building a 120-megawatt facility in Uinta County, while a Salt Lake City-based company is building an 80-megawatt farm outside Glenrock.