Maine's Mt Abram Installs Solar Array; 'Social Responsibility Expected'
Maine's Mt Abram has begun construction on a photovoltaic solar project. The array is expected to produce in excess of 280,000 kWh annually, offsetting approximately 70 percent of the ski area’s annual electricity consumption.
There is a growing segment of the population that expects their companies to be socially responsible,” Jamie Schectman, Director of Marketing and Community Development told SnoCountry.com. Schectman is also CEO and Co-founder of Mountain Rider's Alliance, the group that took over management of Mt. Abram in 2013.
The USDA awarded Mt Abram a 25-percent matching grant in the summer of 2013, up to $235,000, from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Payback on the project is expected at 4.5 years.
Mt Abram is looking to solar to alleviate two issues: climate change and affordability. When snowfall is unreliable, resorts rely on snowmaking to provide a consistent product.
“We want to keep our costs low so that we can offer affordable skiing. Electricity is the number two cost (behind salaries) at a ski area, and along with insurance, is the fastest growing cost. Also, from a sustainability standpoint, we need to be on the forefront of battling climate change.”
Mt Abram announced a snowmaking infrastructure project earlier this summer, to greatly improve the energy efficiency of the system while increasing water flow and pressure to better adapt to a late starting winter and unwanted weather events.
The ski area has upgraded its on-hill snow making guns In recent years to Low E towers, switched to a wood pellet heating system - eliminating the use of #2 heating oil, and became the second ski area in North America to install electric vehicle chargers. Schectman said the mountain uses locally sourced wood for its wood pellet heating system whenever possible.
“As a smaller ski area, we have a small budget compared to some of the bigger corporate resorts. We want to insure these smaller areas are around as a community resource.” Schectman told us.
Mountain Rider’s Alliance gave the ski area the backing of a group of like-minded people dedicated to making a positive change, as well as supporting the environment and surrounding communities.
The mission of the group is to develop values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-centric mountain playgrounds that encourage minimal carbon footprint business practices, while making a positive impact in the local community.
Mt Abram is the 2012 recipient of the National Ski Areas Association’s Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence for switching from fossil fuel-based heating to a wood pellet system.
Photo: Mt. Abram readies new solar array as part of social responsibility effort (Mt Abram)