Vail Resorts Harnesses the Wind
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor
Photo provided by Renewable Choice Energy.

On August 1, 2006, Vail Resorts announced that it will offset 100% of its energy use through the purchase of wind energy, making it the second largest purchaser of wind power in the United States, behind Whole Foods Market. Vail Resorts will purchase nearly 152,000 megawatt-hours of wind energy to offset the power used by its five mountain resorts, lodging properties, retail locations, and headquarters.

“Our core mission is to provide extraordinary vacation experiences in spectacular mountain settings,” said Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts. “By embracing wind power as a clean and renewable source for 100 percent of our company-wide electricity use, we want to reinforce our commitment to the natural environment in which we operate and be a leader on this critical effort within the travel industry.”

Wind power provides an environmentally clean way of generating power, but currently remains more expensive in direct costs than energy produced via fossil fuels. Companies and individuals are able to offset this cost difference by purchasing renewable energy credits. Although it is physically impossible to deliver electricity from a wind farm direct to Vail Resorts, the company will purchase enough credits to offset its energy use, causing an equivalent amount of wind power-derived electricity to be replaced on the power grid.

Vail is partnering with Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy, a wind power producer. Earlier this year, Whole Foods Market purchased enough renewable energy credits from Renewable Choice Energy to offset the power used in all of its stores, facilities, bake houses, and distribution centers.

Several ski resorts in the United States purchase wind energy credits to offset some of their power demands. Vail previously purchased 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year of wind energy to run the Wildwood Express Lift. Aspen uses wind energy to power the Cirque Lift at Snowmass and the Sundeck Restaurant at Aspen Mountain. Other resorts purchasing clean energy include Northstar-at-Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, Hunter Mountain, Mt. Hood, the Canyons, Jackson Hole, Keystone Resort, and Sundance Resort.

Individual consumers can also purchase clean energy credits. For example, California-based TerraPass Inc. allows consumers to purchase clean energy credits to offset their car’s carbon dioxide emissions. Rates vary from $29.95 to $79.95 per year based on the car’s emissions.

To encourage employees and guests to purchase wind power for their residences, Vail Resorts will be offering a free one-day ski lift ticket, valid at any of its five resorts, to anyone who purchases one year’s worth of wind power credits for their family from Renewable Choice Energy. Prices range from $5 to $15 per month, based on the size of the house.

About M. Scott Smith

M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.

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