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New Renewable Energy Sources Discovered in City


Municipal Building basement

The City of Boulder’s Local Environmental Action Division announced yesterday that it has discovered a major new source of renewable energy in the very center of the municipality. Jonathan Koehn, the city’s Regional Sustainability Coordinator, reported that a California consulting firm recently hired by the city had just submitted an innovative plan to trap the hot air generated at City Council meetings and use it to generate electricity. “It will be at the cutting edge of co-generation, completely green, and abundant,” Koehn commented.

Koehn stated that the new system is projected to generate up to 50,000 KW of electricity a week– enough to light and heat 1,000 homes, if the council is willing to lengthen its meetings and eliminate restrictions on public participation. Koehn asserted the consultants expect the system to pay back its cost within six months. The total cost of the system is expected to be $1 million, Koehn said, including $950,000 that the consultants have already charged for their services.

A quick survey of City Council members showed enthusiastic support from several for lengthening the time of meetings. Councilmember Matt Appelbaum claimed that he has never been comfortable with the council’s recent practice of ending its meetings before 10 p.m. “I’m looking forward to returning to the old way of adjourning at 2 or 3 a.m.,” Appelbaum remarked. “It’s the least we can do for the city’s renewable energy program and the future of the planet.”

Koehn noted that public participation will have to be beefed up if the new co-generation system is to reach its full production potential. Councilmember Macon Cowles disclosed that he has already contacted frequent public participation speaker Robert Sharpe and encouraged him and every member of the Marshall Toastmasters Club to address the council for several hours at each meeting.

Glenn Magee, the city’s staff architect, noted that the new co-generation equipment can be easily installed as part of the renovation of the City Council chambers which is already scheduled for this spring. Magee said that clear, Plexiglas funnels will rise from the floor in front of each council member’s station, as well as the two podiums that members of the public use to speak. The funnels will convey the hot air to turbines to be located in the basement of the Municipal Building. “These funnels will make a major design statement, declaring the city’s commitment to renewable energy,” Magee commented. He said that the funnels, turbines and related equipment will be made in China.

Koehn also revealed that a consulting firm from California was recently hired by the city to study whether wave action from more powerboats at the Boulder Reservoir could be profitably converted into electricity using state-of- the-art technology invented in the United Kingdom and made in China.  The energy production at the Reservoir will have the added benefit of increasing energy production at the Municipal Building, when Rob Smoke comes to complain about it.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in the April Fools Edition of the Blue Line (4/1/2011).

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