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Keeping Winter Cool

A little known ski resort in Western Massachusetts erected a wind turbine to help power its operations in the Fall of 2007.  With a total price tag of $4M, many wondered if it would pay off.

Fighting global warming is a natural for ski resorts.  Their success depends on winter.  Even in red state Utah, ski resorts are increasingly trying to find clean energy solutions.  Alta is buying 23% of its electricity through Utah Power’s Blue Sky wind energy program.  Park City Mountain Resort is purchasing clean energy, too, but also surveying its land to determine the potential for a homegrown wind farm.

There are a slew of rule changes for energy efficiency tax credits from the stimulus bill, and many of these should help small businesses, like ski resorts, quickly capitalize on clean tech projects to reduce their consumption and perhaps install wind or solar farms.  Among the changes, there are increases in the tax credit percentages and upper-limit caps for energy efficiency projects, and several larger upgrades have had their upper limit caps removed entirely, such as solar PV, solar water heaters, and geothermal pumps.  These changes help make energy efficiency upgrades even more financially palatable.

So what about Jiminy Peak?  Its “Zephyr” wind turbine, pictured here, had an up-front cost of roughly $4M after the assessments, installation, and purchase.  The resort reported it is saving $450,000 per year, which means that the turbine will pay for itself in less than ten years and provide reliable electricity for many years after. Jiminy Peak has protected itself from fluctuations in energy costs and power outages, and meanwhile given itself a nice PR victory.  And like many ski areas, Jiminy Peak is windiest in the winter, which is when it needs the most energy, so the peak usage rate savings add an additional incentive.  So if Jiminy Peak had such tremendous success with its wind turbine, why aren’t more ski resorts following suit?

Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and hopes that the green economy will someday just be referred to as…the economy.

Photo credit: Dan of Fairfax on Flickr Creative Commons

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Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.


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