Editor’s note: This article was meant to run during the Christmas holidays, but it is still pertinent. Telluride Inside… and Out supported the original campaign, and we applaud Mountain Village for taking on the project.

Mountain Village thinks green this holiday season with the newly restructured Green Gondola Project; Adopt-A-Cabin sponsorship rates slashed. 

The Town of Mountain Village is kicking off this holiday season with the newly restructured Green Gondola Project, which will support the development of local, renewable energy projects and allow the town to obtain a larger percentage of the gondola’s power from new, clean, green energy.

In addition, the Green Gondola Project’s popular Adopt-A-Cabin sponsorship rates are on sale for $1,000 per gondola season, or $1,500 for an entire year – a significant reduction in price. When one sponsors a cabin – a business or family, respectively – they will have either a prominent advertisement or photograph in a gondola cabin of their choosing to show their support for a clean, green gondola.

In recent months the Green Gondola Project, formally known as the Green Gondola Campaign, was restructured. Deanna Drew, Mountain Village’s director of plazas and environmental services, is spearheading the project with the goal of keeping it sustainable and local.

“First, 100% of donations will go towards putting new, renewable energy projects in the ground, with nothing taken out for commissions or advertising, something that very few charitable causes can claim,” Drew explains. “Mountain Village will pay for the operating costs for the new project so that all donated funds can be spent on renewable energy projects. Another benefit to the new project will be a stronger relationship with Mountain Village’s electricity provider and co-op, San Miguel Power Association. The town believes that by increasing the amount of renewable energy produced in the region, it will increase the value of the co-op for its members, and ultimately decrease the price of clean energy in the future.”

Energy projects funded through the Green Gondola Project will be selected based on return on investment and actual amount of clean energy produced. Also, educational and community-building qualities of each project will strongly be considered during the selection process. The previous Green Gondola Campaign intended to install enough solar panels on Mountain Village facilities to offset 20 percent of the gondola’s electrical use.

“With the restructuring, the town is expanding the project area to the entire San Miguel Power Association service territory, so it will have more options for maximizing the energy produced. The town is also looking at hydropower and wind potential so that selected projects can give the gondola the best bang for the buck.”

San Miguel Power Association’s (SMPA) service territory covers seven counties, over 3,600 square miles, and includes 13,000 meters. Currently, SMPA collects about $100,000 annually for its Green Blocks Offset Program. The funding collected for this program finances rebates and grants for renewable energy projects throughout the region. Mountain Village and the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association invest $20,000 annually in Green Blocks to offset 100% the gondola’s electricity use, and are considered a major contributor to the Green Blocks Offset Program. According to Drew, the town will continue to support local renewable programs like this one, but prefers and intends to move away from offsets as new renewable energy projects become available.

“Offsets and Renewable Energy Credits, also known as RECS, can be confusing,” says Drew. “The town wants Green Gondola Project donors to get tangible results for their contributions. To do so, the town will implement and support new, renewable projects in Mountain Village and the surrounding region.”

The intent for the original Green Gondola Campaign was to fund the installation of solar panels on the roof of Gondola Station Mountain Village. The array will generate a small percentage of the gondola’s energy, and will be a highly visible educational tool for the community.

“The town believes education and awareness is an important first step in these early stages of the project. We intend to honor the intent of the original program and the original donors with the installation of solar panels on the gondola station roof.” An anonymous donor has already contributed $10,000 to the project.

The gondola uses about two million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The Green Gondola Project goal is to match that amount with new, renewable energy produced in the gondola’s service territory.

“It will be a great challenge that will take a committed effort from the community at large over an extended period of time,” Drew says optimistically. “You have to start somewhere.”

Future Green Gondola Projects funds will go towards local renewable energy projects that will generate a larger percentage of the gondola’s electricity, such as micro-hydropower turbines in town water lines, the purchase of solar panels for the upcoming community solar farm, or more solar panels on the gondola stations.

“Ideally, all of the Green Gondola renewable energy projects would be in Mountain Village or Telluride, but by working with SMPA we can consider projects in the region as well,” Drew says.

Mountain Village will focus its marketing efforts locally before introducing the project to the surrounding region. Drew says donating to the project is a great way to invest in local renewable energy and she is hoping that all residents and visitors whose lives are touched by the gondola will make room in their personal budgets for an annual contribution.

Donations to the New Green Gondola Project, both large and small, will be accepted at donation boxes outside the various gondola terminals, and via check. Checks may be dropped off or mailed to Mountain Village Town Hall, 455 Mountain Village Boulevard, Suite A, Mountain Village, 81435. For more information, please contact Drew at

Last, Mountain Village would like to thank former Green Gondola Campaign Manager Ben Williams from the Green Credit Clearing House and The New Community Coalition (TNCC) for all the hard work they put into the original campaign.

“The town looks forward to building on the work already accomplished, while including the town’s environmental partners such as the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County, as well as TNCC, in this newly revamped, restructured, local sustainability project.”

1 Comment
  • Patricia Penn
    Posted at 00:43h, 14 May

    So glad to read about the changes taking place in The Town of Mountain Village! I prefer to spend my holidays over there with my friends. Really good news! Thank you for the post.