Operating a ski hill is an expensive endeavor that requires enormous amounts of energy. Running the chairlifts, heating and lighting the lodges, fueling the groomers and snowmobiles, the list goes on and on. Without a supply of power, whatever the form, not much is possible on the commercial slopes.
Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Massachusetts is taking a new tact towards harvesting energy on its own property by generating electricity via a large wind turbine on the western shoulder mountain. According to their website the turbine was installed in 2007 and has 123-foot blades that sit on a a 253-foot tower. The tower is prominent but doesn’t dominate the landscape when you’re on the chairlift. According to Jiminy, the turbine cost a cool $4 million and paid for itself in just seven years.
“The Jiminy turbine has been an exceptional, dependable power producer for us. The turbine handles 33 percent of our energy needs on an annual basis, up to 66 percent in the winter when the winds blow strongest.
As far as electricity is concerned, we’re already at 100 percent renewable power. We’re good. Excess power not needed by the resort goes out on the national grid, for which the resort receives credit to use when the turbine is working at less than full capacity or when the resort’s need exceeds the turbine’s capacity” – Brian Fairbank of Fairbank Ownership Group In Interview With Renewable Energy World
A few hours north at Bolton Valley in Vermont, a turbine was installed in 2009. Bolton’s wind turbine, although smaller in stature, sits in a high-profile spot on top of the Vista Chair.
“The 121-foot-tall Northwind 100 Wind Turbine produces approximately 300,000 kilowatt hours of power annually and can start generating electricity at wind speeds as low as 6 mph. The turbine uses net metering so power is sent into the electrical grid and in return, Bolton Valley receives a price reduction on their electricity. The amount of power produced could cover about one eighth of Bolton Valley’s total energy needs” – Bolton Valley
This begs the question. Are wind turbines at ski resorts a good idea for renewable energy? Or are they an eyesore? There is no denying the fact that they produce energy and reduce a ski area’s demand for power. There is also no denying that some people might not love the idea of staring at a 20-story turbine during their precious escape to the mountains.
Is wind power a viable option for the future of ski resorts?
Should we forgo wind power and proceed with solar energy that would more effectively preserve the natural landscape?
Is all of this too little too late to have a significant effect on our environment?
What do you think?