A lot of businesses have to rely on a supplier. But if you’re in the ski resort business, there’s probably no supplier more important than your energy supplier. The problem is that energy is expensive — and some of it is not so good for the environment. That’s why more and more ski resort businesses are getting into the energy business. Not only is that good for their carbon footprint — it’s also good for the bottom line.
It takes a lot of power to operate a resort, what with lifts to run, snow to make and vehicles to fuel. Which is why ski resorts are oftentimes the largest customers for their local utility providers, particularly during the winter months. That buying power has created opportunities.
For example, the Aspen Skiing Co. in Colorado generates 24 million kilowatt hours of energy a year — enough to power their mountains and 2,400 homes — and now they’re doing much of it themselves through utilities that they own.
Smaller resorts, like the Mount Abram Ski Area in Maine, are collecting energy through hundreds of solar panels. Colorado’s Vail Resorts says they’ll be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and another resort — Squaw Valley in Olympic Valley, Calif.–plans to be 100 percent powered by reusable energy by the end of the year. These resorts are dramatically cutting their energy costs by either using their own collected power or selling it back to their utility companies.
“If they want to be able to survive as a ski resort, maintain the levels of snow that are critical, we have to get off of fossil fuels,” Marta Stoepker, who works on the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign said in this Powder Magazine article. “They [ski resorts] have a vested interest in this.”
Power storage is also in big demand. Batteries are handy for resorts when there isn’t enough room (or money) to build their own grids. Some of these companies — like Squaw Valley — use batteries to back up the collection of their solar power and which then helps them to better counteract the surges and volatility of power demand caused by the stopping and starting chairlifts and snow making machines.
“This is very real,” Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley’s chief executive said in the Powder Magazine report. “This is also very affordable. So why wouldn’t we take advantage of that?”