Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wind powered ski areas

Of all industries, the ski business would be among the first adversely affected by global warming. Already, warming weather is cutting into ski profits, and threatens the traditional meccas of winter sports. It is anticipated that melting glaciers and unreliable snowfall will force many lower altitude snow sports centers to close within our lifetimes.

Therefore, it's no surprise that ski areas nationwide are turning to wind power to reduce their environmental footprint. Twenty-two winter resorts in seven states now use wind power credits to supply all of their electric needs. A total of 51 ski resorts use at least partial amounts of renewable energy.

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Truckee, California was the first U.S. resort to rely completely on wind power. Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts' Berkshires is constructing a huge windmill to supply all of its needs. (Ironically, an option unavailable to areas on leased national or state land.) The owners of New Hampshire's Mount Sunapee, Colorado's Crested Butte and Vermont's Okemo converted all three to 100 percent reliance on wind power generated electricity.

It is estimated that the combined efforts of these resorts keep over 372,383,234 pounds of carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas believed to be chiefly responsible for global warming) out of the atmosphere. An emissions-reduction effort by other means would require the planting of 15 million trees or the elimination of 150,000 round-trip flights between New York and California.

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