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Colorado brewer puts 'green' beer on tap

Fort Collins Utilities is offering power from turbines at Medicine Bow, Wyoming, to customers for an additional $0.02 per kilowatt hour.   

March 17, 1999
Web posted at: 9:07 a.m. EST (1407 GMT)

Millions of people around the world will celebrate Saint Patrick's Day Wednesday by quaffing a pint of green beer.

Those who would like to drink eco-friendly "green" beer on a more regular basis can do so thanks to the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The brewery formally signed an agreement with Fort Collins Utilities February 25 to purchase wind power at a premium price for the next 10 years. The agreement will allow the utility company to install a 660 kilowatt wind turbine at a site near Medicine Bow, Wyoming.

The turbine will produce about 1.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which is about the amount of electricity that the brewery will consume in the next year.

There will not be a direct power line from the wind turbine to the brewery. Like all other electric power producers and consumers in the country, both the brewery and the turbine are connected to the power grid. The concept is that the brewery has committed to pay a premium price for the total amount of power that the turbine supplies to the grid.

With the addition of the clean, "green" power to the grid, the alliance has reduced the amount of electricity coal-fired power plants need produce. The New Belgium Brewing Company said that the power produced by the turbine will reduce the amount of coal burned by more than 980 tons a year and eliminate more than 4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

"As the largest private consumer of wind power, Fort Collins' own New Belgium Brewing Company has proven how businesses can make a difference in their communities by supporting clean, renewable wind power," said Mike Smith, general manager of Fort Collins Utilities.

The brewery and the utility also pointed out that the Medicine Bow wind power site is not near any migratory bird routes. One of the few complaints about wind power from environmentalists is that the turbines increase the rate of avian mortality.

The decision by New Belgium Brewing Company to purchase wind power at a premium is part of a growing trend, said the American Wind Energy Association, an advocacy group for the renewable energy.

Other recent agreements include one by the All Souls Episcopal Church of Berkeley, California, which recently voted unanimously in favor of purchasing electricity from renewable sources from Green Mountain Energy Resources.

As well, the University Students' Cooperative Association in Berkeley -- the largest student housing cooperative in North America -- is purchasing renewable energy from Green Mountain.

"At a time when the utility industry is undergoing unprecedented change and companies are searching for ways to differentiate their products and build customer loyalty, green power is looking more and more like an obvious winner," said Tom Gray, a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association.

"As more and more people learn how much of our pollution comes from fossil-fired power plants, the appeal of green power will only grow," he said.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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American Wind Energy Association
New Belgium Brewing Company
City of Fort Collins: Wind Power Pilot Program
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