Mountainfilm: The Green Gondola & The New Normal

To learn more about the Green Gondola Project and Mountain Village’s green initiatives, go here or go here for an in-depth story.

To learn more about making a donation to the Green Gondola Project online, go here.

To take action with MountainFilm’s “The New Normal,” take the pledge today by visiting here. A few Palmyra passes to Mountainfilm are still available. Go here.


Through its new initiative “The New Normal,” also the theme of the 2017 Moving Mountains Symposium, Mountainfilm is spearheading a community-wide, grassroots effort to battle climate change at the local level and bring the Telluride region to carbon neutrality.

In Mountain Village, however, that effort began years ago, picking up a head of steam in 2009 in response to then Colorado Governor Ritter’s very public campaign targeting significant, statewide greenhouse gas reductions by 2020.

The mayors of the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village at the time responded with a challenge to their respective communities to produce 100% of their electricity from new renewable sources by 2020. One major step – or should we say ride – in the right direction was the launch of the Green Gondola Project, which continues this year with the goal of educating visitors about green energy in the community, enhancing awareness to the program, and other strategies that would enhance alternative energy and greener living throughout the community.

Though, truth be told, the first chapter of Mountain Village’s ongoing sustainability efforts begins in the 1980s with the vision of the ski area’s original owner-developers, Ron Allred and Jim Wells, who wanted to offer a pedestrian-friendly alpine resort-inspired ski experience in the context of a community where guests could leave their car behind and access the surrounding mountains via a free and environmentally-friendly public transportation system.

In that context, the Gondola or the “G,” as the people mover affectionately came to be known, acts not only as a traditional lift for skiers and a vehicle to expand the ski area, it also provides public transportation for visitors and residents alike, while reducing CO2 emissions and improving air quality by taking cars off the road, specifically preventing an estimated 45,000 tons of carbon dioxide in vehicle emissions from entering the environment annually.

More good news: the “G” is a free service to the two communities it serves – but there is a but.

As the world turns, “free” comes at a high price: 2.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year to be exact.

Most of the electricity running the “G” is generated from burning coal, so the gondola generates a large amount of greenhouse gas, contributing to global warming, approximately enough CO2 to fill 2,000 Washington Monuments each year or the same amount of gas released by driving an average-sized sedan around the world 356 times.

However, monies raised by the Green Gondola Project go towards implementing energy efficiency upgrades in general, things as simple as changing all the lightbulbs in the gondola station to LED (and subsequently cutting electricity needs by 70%), to expanding the Gondola’s use of green energy through the installation of 160 solar panels at Station St. Sophia and Station Village Parking.

And, for the record, those solar panels, installed right on the gondola terminals, supply 600,000 kilowatt hours of that energy. The rest of the electricity is purchased through Green Blocks – a program provided by San Miguel Power Association– to ensure that the energy used to run the “G” is generated from local and renewable sources such as solar and wind.

The following is a list of Green Gondola Projects results to date:

• 100% SMPA Green Blocks renewable energy gondola offset annually since 2007
• 10 years offset = 20,000,000 total kWh offset to date
• 200,000 SMPA blocks of green energy purchased to date
• 20,000,000 total kWh offset = 38,600,000 lbs. CO2 avoided to date
• 160,000 KW of on-site solar installed on gondola terminals
• Solar panels producing 240,000 kWh solar energy annually
• Solar panels avoiding 463,200 lbs. CO2 annually

The Green Gondola Project is funded in part by donations. Pease be sure to check out the donation boxes in Oak Street the Station Telluride, and the Mountain Village Center Core, and Village Parking.

In addition to the Green Gondola Project, Mountain Village plans to execute or continue to execute other green initiative in 2017 as a way of rewarding folks for reducing their carbon footprint and addressing the impacts of climate change. (Details here.)

Will Mountain Village and MountainFfilm ultimately be able to achieve their mutual goal of carbon neutrality in the Telluride region by 2020? Hard to say, but life under The New Normal is not just about the destination.

It is all about the steps we take to get there.

Or, in this case, the ride on the “G.”

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