Cruising by the Zephyr on a winter day. (Jiminy Peak)
In 2007, when Massachusetts' Jiminy Peak installed a $4 million 1.5 megawatt (MW) wind turbine on the western flank of its mountain, many thought the 70-year-old resort was taking a huge financial risk.
The 253-ft. high turbine paid for itself in seven years, and today, combined with a 12-acre 2.3 MW solar field and 75 kWh cogeneration unit at the slopeside Country Inn at Jiminy Peak, can claim to be one of the few resorts in the U.S. powered 100 percent by renewable energy.
"We're now focusing on drastically reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions," said Brian Fairbank, chairman of The Fairbank Group that runs the resort. "Conservation is the most cost-effective form of energy use reduction, cost control and containment."
Today, the "Zephyr," as it's nicknamed, is the first megawatt-size turbine at a ski resort and remains the largest.
"Our focus now is upon reducing our carbon footprint. We're still burning gasoline and diesel to run snowcats, still using propane to heat, and on busy weekends, 1,500 cars are in the parking lots, most with internal combustion engines."
To that end, Jiminy has taken a number of steps already underway to further reduce the resort's impact on the planet. These improvements include:
- Installation of a 2.3 MW community solar project
- Replaced the entire 450-gun snowmaking arsenal with energy-efficient Snowgun Technologies "Sledgehammer" snowguns.
- Two PistenBully groomers with digital mapping and GPS to tell drivers exactly how much snow is beneath their treads, blades and rollers.
- Purchasing the new energy efficient Pisten Bully 600 E+ snowcat, one of three in use in the northeast. The cat uses a diesel engine to drive two electric generators which power electric motors that turn the tracks and the snow tiller.
- Installation of four EV charging stations
- Over 230 slopeside lights replaced with lighter, brighter, more energy efficient LED lighting covering 60 percent of the mountain.
- By using propane for both hot water and electricity, the Country Inn's 75 kWh cogeneration unit eliminated one propane burner.
- Excess heat from two snowmaking compressors are used to warm three Village Center buildings.
"Conservation makes perfect business sense today, just as the turbine did 10 years ago. We save money, besides which, it's the right thing to do." says Jiminy's Jim Van Dyke, vice president of environmental sustainability, and a veteran 43-year employee.