Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort located in the heart of the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts constructed 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 significantly expanded 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 solar power facility to Jiminy Peak's existing wind turbine, 75 kWh cogeneration unit, and extensive conservation efforts, the resort can claim to be one of the few resorts in the U.S. powered 100% by renewable energy and one of the most sustainable energy ski resorts.
Solar and Wind Energy
The solar project significantly expanded Jiminy Peak's renewable energy program. All power generated by the 7,500-module solar facility is exported to the grid. Resort president Tyler Fairbank said, "We receive net metering credits in return. Half the net metering credits are utilized by Jiminy Peak and the balance by about 200 neighboring homes and small businesses in the local area."
The resort uses all the power generated by the wind turbine according to Jim Van Dyke, vice president of environmental sustainability, and a veteran 43-year employee who commented “The turbine handles 33% of our energy needs on an annual basis, up to 66% in the winter when the winds blow strongest. Any excess energy is sent out to the grid and Jiminy receives a net metering credit, which is used when we need to purchase energy from the grid. So in that fashion we now use 100% of the electricity that the turbine generates.”
Lighting, Recycling, and Cogeneration
Jiminy has upgraded to more efficient lighting and programmable thermostats in the lodges, and the resort more than doubled the energy efficiency of the lights used on the slopes for night skiing. In the Country Inn, 658 lights were converted to LEDs to be more efficient and 230 slopeside lights have been replaced with lighter, brighter, more energy efficient LED lighting covering 60 percent of the mountain. The difference has been likened to that between a manila envelope and a white envelope.
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.
Using the heat from two 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.
The towel and sheet program in the lodge rooms saves 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 averages 615 acre feet of snow per winter using machine-made snow and approximately 123,000,000 gallons of water. The entire 450-gun snowmaking arsenal was replaced with energy-efficient Snowgun Technologies “Sledgehammer” snowguns. The new guns convert more water with less air and at warmer temperatures than traditional snowguns. This means the resort runs air compressors for fewer hours, consuming less electricity, while producing 100% more snow (assuming Mother Nature cooperates).
For example, the snowmaking system's old technology would have required 4,566,100 kWh ten years ago versus 1,368,326 kWh today. The annual savings is 70% in energy or 3,197,774 kWh.
Jiminy Peak has equipped two PistenBully groomers with digital mapping and GPS to tell drivers exactly how much snow is beneath their treads, blades and rollers. The maps are based on aerial photography captured during summer, and are accurate to within two inches (5 cm). “Rather than eyeball it, the SNOWSat technology allows us to more precisely gauge depth and place more snow where the cover is thin, and less where the cover is already sufficient for skiing or riding. This means fewer passes by groomers,” Van Dyke explains, noting that Jiminy Peak is one of only a few resorts in the U.S. using the new technology.
Speaking of groomers, Jiminy Peak is purchasing the new energy efficient Pisten Bully 600 E+ snowcat, one of three in use in the northeast. Kassbohrer’s Pisten Bully “Green Machine” 600E+ is the world’s first groomer with a diesel-electric drive. One of the most significant advancements in snowgrooming technology over the past two decades, the 600 E+ uses a diesel engine to drive two electric generators which power electric motors that turn the tracks and the snow tiller. It reduces the emission of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxides by 20%, produces 99% fewer sooty particles and registers a 20% fuel savings over their standard 600 model.
There are plans at Jiminy Peak for the installation of four EV charging stations, working with an Albany, N.Y. EV Drivers Club, with support from Tesla. Van Dyke notes that EV car owners, in addition to saving on fossil fuels, will be recharging with renewable electricity generated by both solar and wind.
Jiminy Peak has won environmental recognition, 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 proud for reaching 100% of our electricity energy, which is from local, on site-generated renewable resources."