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Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort located in the heart of the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts just announced the construction launch of a 2.3 megawatt community solar facility located on 12 acres of the ski area and resort's property, owned and operated by nexamp. Renewable energy is not new to the resort – back in 2007 it was the first ski area in North America to generate power from its own GE 1.5 MW wind turbine.

The solar project, which is expected to come online this fall, significantly expands Jiminy Peak's renewable energy program, while extending the environmental and cost-saving benefits of solar to up to 200 neighboring homes and small businesses. By adding the new solar power facility to Jiminy Peak's existing wind turbine, 75 kWh cogeneration unit, and extensive conservation efforts, the resort estimates it will be able to offset 90% of its total energy needs from local renewable resources, making Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort one of the greenest energy resorts of its kind in the nation.

All power generated by the new 7,500-module solar facility will be exported to the grid. Resort president Tyler Fairbank said, "We then receive credits in return. Half the net metering credits will be utilized by Jiminy Peak about 1.15 MW, the balance by individual homeowners in the local area, thus reducing their cost by an estimated 15 percent. "The resort uses all the power generated by the wind turbine and has been doing so since its installation in 2007. We receive net metering credits from the utility for every electron we pump onto the grid…and we're saving more than $500,000 through all our renewable and conservation efforts each year."

The resort has upgraded to more efficient lighting and programmable thermostats in the lodges and is in the process of more than doubling the energy efficiency of the lights used on the slopes for night skiing. Using the heat from 2 snowmaking compressors to heat 34,000 square feet of space in 3 Village Center buildings avoids the need of an equivalent of 63,800 kWh.

Jiminy averages 425 acre feet of snow per winter using machine-made snow. Nine years ago the snowmaking system's old technology would have required 4,566,100 kWh versus 2,661,400 today. The annual savings is 41.7% in energy or 1,903,300 kWh.

Waste oil is taken from snowmaking compressors, grooming machines, and all vehicles to heat the Mountain Operations building using approximately 200 gallons of waste oil per year and the process avoids the storage and disposal of old used oil. Jiminy Peak installed a cogeneration unit in the Country Inn. The unit uses propane gas that powers a turbine that in turn produces hot water for use throughout the Inn. This hot water also provides the heating source for the central core of the building that includes the year-round outdoor pool, hot tubs, and John Harvard's Restaurant & Brewery, too. A by-product of the cogeneration turbines operation is the production of electricity producing 400,000 kWh per year all of which is consumed on the property.

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The ski area slope grooming fleet was replaced with the Pisten Bully that uses approximately 30% of fuel consumed by the old fleet due to increased fuel efficiency. The towel and sheet program in the lodge rooms save about 25,000 gallons of water a year by only washing the sheets and towels when requested by guests staying for more than one night. They've eliminated the use of toxic cleaning agents and only use green, biodegradable solvents and cleaners. Conversion to waterless urinals in bathrooms of several buildings and at JJ's Lodge saves 40,000 gallons of water per urinal.

Jiminy Peak won the Golden Eagle Award from the National Ski Areas Association for Overall Environmental Excellence in 2008 for construction of the wind turbine and a Silver Eagle Award from SKI/Skiing Magazine for Fish & Wildlife Habitat Protection in 1994. But awards are not why Jiminy Peak Resorts conserves and invests in renewable energy. Fairbank reflected, "Conservation is practiced every day at Jiminy Peak. It's part of our corporate DNA. We have an in-house energy management team that conducts an on-going and aggressive program to help us to identify and curtail energy waste and research ways to source 100 percent of our energy from renewable resources. They are constantly evaluating opportunities for savings. Our renewable efforts have come from facilities we've built and we're striving for 100 percent, local, onsite-generated renewable resources." Photos: Solar array depiction and wind turbine at Jiminy Peak.