In 2006, the city of Aspen, Colorado (which supplies power to about 60% of its households) divided its residential customers into three tiers based on their consumption, charging higher rates for the highest tier. They may not have gone far enough to encourage conservation measures, though, and are considering a further rate increase for the biggest consumers. One barrier: those big consumers are often vacation homes, whose owners are used to paying higher energy prices elsewhere.
Aspen eyes electricity rate hike
Encouraging energy conservation is the goal
by Scott Condon
The city [of Aspen] divided residential users into three tiers in 2006 and started charging higher rates for those that consumed more. But the rates weren’t steep enough to encourage people to reduce their electricity use.
"We’re not seeing much effect on conservation," said Aspen Public Works Director Phil Overeynder.
Overeynder said the rates charged by the city probably don’t faze the most highly consumptive homeowners. Some second-home owners come from places where the lowest rate for electricity is the same as Aspen’s highest rate, he said.
When asked how high of a priority the rate change is, [Mayor Mick] Ireland responded, "It’s pretty high up because it’s a simple thing to do."
Ireland said higher rates might provide greater incentive for homeowners who are interested in conservation but haven’t taken any steps yet.
The city already participates in a program in which new homes that exceed an energy "budget" must pay an offset fee or they must develop alternative energy sources to avoid the fee.
Photo credit: Jonah Horowitz