Killington Gondola

There are 100 jokes in this headline, for sure. But for sustainability and creativity, it’s no laughing matter. The "Beast of the East" is bringing cow technology to its beacon, the K-1 Express Gondola.


Being the cutting edge resort that it is, Killington is the first Vermont ski area to use the power of the poop.

Working with Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility, and the Vermont farm community, Killington will use cow manure, an abundant energy source, to propel skiers and riders to its 4,241 foot summit this season. This has been a work-in-progress for the past 10 years.


“It's great to see a ski area walking the environmental talk,” said Rutland-area skier and freelance writer Peggy Shinn. “Green Mountain Power's Cow Power program is innovative and helps us Vermonters buy power locally, which I think is important, and talk about renewable energy.”


The formula is simple: 13 farms times 10,000 dairy cows equal 300,000 gallons of cow manure. Farmers turn the manure into biogas and ultimately generate electricity. The slurry needs to marinate through a digester for about three weeks at 100 degrees.


The process bypasses the need to produce methane, a greenhouse gas more detrimental to the environment than carbon dioxide. That energy is sent to Green Mountain Power’s electrical system before delivery to the gondola.


This method benefits the farmers in an increasingly difficult economic climate; they get paid for the electricity, and if anything remains, the liquid comes back to them as fertilizer, while the solids can be used as bedding for the cows.


So the concept benefits everyone and everything involved, and that’s not a laughing matter.


Photo: Killington Resort