5 Winter Destinations in Colorado Promoting Energy Efficiency
The snow is falling, the ski trails are groomed, and you’re ready to have fun. It’s time to experience the thrills of winter in Colorado’s mountain towns featuring four bucket list destinations that not only promise thrilling winter escapades but also take a pioneering stance in energy efficiency. Telluride, Crested Butte, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs offer wonderful winter adventures. While you’re there, check out how co-op members are leading the way in energy efficiency at high altitudes.
Telluride, Colo., served by San Miguel Power Association
Take in the gorgeous views of the San Juan Mountains in a 13-minute gondola ride. Passengers can get on the gondola from either Telluride, Mountain Village, or the midway point at Station St. Sophia. This free attraction will shuttle people 10,500 feet up to restaurants, bars and shops on The Ridge, which is the pedestrian village at the summit. From Mountain Village, visitors can find trails to Telluride Ski Resort. San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) delivers renewable energy to operate the gondola.
For a historic experience, take a walking tour of Main Street in downtown Telluride. The town features Victorian homes and other attractions that have survived fires, floods, mining booms, and pandemics. Start the tour at the Telluride Historical Museum or simply download a map for a self-guided tour of the area.
Located in Ridgway, Colo., SMPA provides member consumers with opportunities to generate a lower carbon footprint through the SMPA Green Fund. Member consumers can sign up for Totally Green to use 100% renewable energy by adding 1¢ per kilowatt-hour to their monthly bill for a residential home.
For those driving electric vehicles, SMPA has added electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure to make charging more convenient for electric vehicle owners. By taking advantage of funds available through Tri-State’s EV Infrastructure Program, which provided $45,000 towards creating EV infrastructure, SMPA installed Level 2 alternating current (AC) chargers which charge faster than Level 1 type chargers. Additionally, SMPA created an in-kind partnership arrangement to offer Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers which can charge most EV model batteries to 80% in about 20-30 minutes. Learn more about their EV Infrastructure here.
Crested Butte, Colo., served by Gunnison County Electric Association
Take your pick of four towns in the valley to visit—Gunnison, Almont, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. These mountain towns host a vibrant arts scene with numerous galleries, museums, and festivals. The Mountain Heritage Museum in Crested Butte offers 2-hour pub crawls to visit downtown attractions with libations included. For a list of upcoming concerts and art shows, see the events calendar of the Center for the Arts Crested Butte.
When you’re ready to hit the slopes, the Crested Butte Mountain Resort is well known for steep alpine skiing. Visitors can go extreme skiing through trees and take surface lifts to challenging terrain on rocks and cliffs. If you’d like a backcountry adventure, consider renting a snowmobile. Guided snowmobile tours start at $89 per day and children ride for free.
Serving 9,000 consumers, Gunnison County Electric Association has the second-highest percentage of underground lines in Tri-State’s cooperative. The mountainous terrain presents unique opportunities and challenges to serve rural customers in Gunnison, Hinsdale and Saguache counties. GCEA partners with Tri-State to provide an Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. So far, GCEA has sent member consumers 3,026 rebates on everything from EV charger installation to energy-efficient heat pumps.
Take in the view of Crested Butte and the surrounding area while charging up your EV, but you won’t have to stop for long. GCEA supports the needs of EV drivers within its service territory as well as of those traveling to multiple destinations on the Western Slope. To date, GCEA has installed 14 chargers including three Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers to make charging convenient and quick. Find a charger here.
Fort Collins, Colo., served by Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association
During the winter nights, downtown Fort Collins is glowing with Christmas lights. Grab some hot cocoa at a restaurant or coffee shop and head over to the Old Town Square Skate Rink. Visitors can enjoy free admission and skate rentals.
Fort Collins offers beautiful trails for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing around Horsetooth Reservoir and Poudre Canyon. One of the most popular trails is a 4.75-mile hike to Blue Lake, with views of the Roosevelt National Forest.
For an adventurous day out, consider winter fat bike tours. Front Range Ride Guides will take beginners, groups, and expert riders through nearby trails. Both Cameron Pass and Lory State Park have scenic singletrack trails.
Poudre Valley REA (PVREA) serves Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties in Northern Colorado. Their Green Power Program allows member consumers to purchase 100 kWh for 10c per block. Since the average house uses 1,000 kWh each month, it costs about $1 per month to get renewable energy to power their homes. The green energy comes from wind, solar, and small-scale hydroelectrical power.
For those with EVs, you won’t have to drive very far to find a charger in or around Fort Collins. PVREA partnered with Tri-State to provide EV charging stations by adding multiple Level 2 chargers and a FreeWire DC Fast Charger with battery energy storage for an ultrafast charge. Find your charger here.
Falcon, Colo., served by Mountain View Electric
An unincorporated suburb of Colorado Springs, Falcon has seen rapid growth in recent years with new neighborhoods, schools and retail options. A great way to view Eastern Colorado’s rugged beauty is from a car, truck, or ATV. RAM Off-Road Park is a short drive away and provides 86 acres for four-wheeling, off-road moto, and motocross tracks.
If you’re looking for a slower pace in nature, consider visiting nearby ranches, zoos, and parks. Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch boasts 800 buffalo with on-site tours. The Paint Mines Interpretive Park features colorful geologic formations including spires and hoodoos. If you’re into hiking, biking and family activities, check out Fox Run Regional Park or the Pineries Open Space. If you’re in need of an EV charger on your adventures in this area, you can look up locations on PlugShare.
Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) serves 55,000 rural member consumers along the eastern plains. Fostering a local community that is self-reliant is part of MVEA’s cooperative principles. MVEA provides tips to save on electric bills, a virtual energy assessment for residential homes and energy efficiency rebates. Member consumers can apply for rebates on select electrical heating systems, LED bulbs, electric heating systems, and select electrical appliances that are Energy Star rated.
MVEA’s Green Power program is a great way to support renewable energy. Member consumers can purchase Green Power blocks for the development of renewable energy. As Colorado’s energy landscape evolves, MVEA and Tri-State continue to find ways to decrease the cost of renewable energy for rural consumers.
South Fork, Colo (Wolf Creek Pass) served by San Luis Vally REC
Nestled in the picturesque landscapes near South Fork, Colorado, Wolf Creek Ski Resort stands as a beacon for winter enthusiasts seeking the perfect alpine getaway. The resort, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, offers a haven for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.
As visitors explore the area, they'll also discover the commitment of the local communities to sustainability. The town of South Fork has two public level 2 chargers at the visitor station and the Town of Del Notre has a DC Fast Charger. Sustainability is part of the community. L learn more about Wolf Creek’s sustainability efforts here.
Wolf Creek Ski Area is a member of San Luis Valley REC (SLVREC), so the power needed to run ski lifts on Blue Bird on powder days is provided by SLVREC. This member is helping to lead the charge in the Valley on electrification and efficiency. At the Monte Vista headquarters, they installed a public DC Fast Charger in the Spring of 2023 that is open 24 hours a day to help fill the charging gap between Wolf Creek and Buena Vista. SLVREC offers rebates to members for efficiency and electrification measures in member households and small businesses. This fusion of winter wonder and environmental consciousness creates a unique experience for travelers, where outdoor adventures harmonize with a commitment to a greener future.
Energy-Efficient Savings for Rural Living
State and federal incentives are available for residential and commercial consumers to make energy-efficient upgrades. Your local electric cooperative or public power district can provide more information about energy-efficient programs and rebates.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 45 members, including 42-member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable, and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit www.tristate.coop.