$5.7 Million Initiative Will Reduce Energy Usage for Whiteface and Gore Snowmaking

By AlpineZone News |
Oct 13 2006 - 11:44 AM

LAKE PLACID, New York — The world-class Winter Olympic facilities in the region are on track to achieve the highest energy efficiency, thanks to a continuing partnership between the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) for using the latest energy-saving technologies for substantial reductions in electric bills, and for reduced reliance on foreign oil.

NYPA Chairman Frank S. McCullough, Jr. and President and Chief Executive Officer Timothy S. Carey joined ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer Thursday to announce plans for a nearly $5.7 million energy efficiency initiative that is expected to reduce the Olympic facilities’ annual utility bills by more than $430,000 from reduced electricity and fuel usage. NYPA will recover its costs over 10 years by sharing in the savings.

Under the initiative, the Power Authority will replace most of the air compressors used to make snow at Whiteface and Gore Mountains with high-efficiency models. The work will also prevent oil used in the snowmaking process from reaching the mountains, for an added environmental benefit.

“It is only natural for the Power Authority to be working to lower ORDA’s energy costs since a portion of the Olympic authority’s electricity is provided by the Lake Placid Municipal Electric System, one of the community-owned electric systems around the state benefiting from our low-cost hydropower,” said Chairman McCullough. “Energy efficiency is fundamental for managing available electricity supplies, for reliable, economical electricity service. This is especially important in the Tri-Lakes region of the Adirondacks, where transmission constraints led to the licensing of a new power line this year, under Governor Pataki’s direction, that is expected to go into service during the winter of 2008 to 2009.”

“We’re eager to get started on the latest phase of our energy efficiency work with ORDA, which will reduce its annual electricity use by nearly 600,000 kilowatt-hours, cut dependence on foreign oil by 4,500 barrels a year and annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,000 tons,” said President Carey. “The efficiency upgrades support the Olympic authority in managing its costs and ensuring that its ski facilities and other attractions remain the Winter Sports Capital of the World. Their premier status has been one of the hallmarks of Governor Pataki’s leadership, reflecting his appreciation for their integral role in the Adirondack region’s economy and tourism industries. We’re delighted to be playing a part in contributing to this by lessening the considerable amounts of energy necessary for snowmaking.”

“The exceptional winter sports facilities here are in no small measure a credit to Governor Pataki’s recognition of their importance to the Adirondack region’s economy,” said ORDA President Blazer. “Every year, these facilities contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the region’s economy, so enhancement measures such as those by NYPA have significance that go beyond the immediate ski areas. I also want to thank Chairman McCullough, President Carey and NYSERDA’s Peter Smith for the support they’ve provided in helping us to keep these facilities at the forefront of winter sports training and competition and as an economic engine for the Adirondacks. We greatly appreciate what their staffs are doing.”

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is providing a $275,000 grant for the pending project, with the overall costs to be further lowered by grants of $320,000 from the Petroleum Overcharge Restitution Fund, which was established to provide restitution to consumers for overcharges by major petroleum companies in the past. In New York State, the fund is administered by NYPA.

“We’re happy to be contributing to the success of this energy-efficiency project, and reducing the cost-recovery amount, accelerating the point when ORDA keeps all recurring savings on its electric bills,” said Peter R. Smith, president and CEO, NYSERDA. “This initiative is a wonderful example of public agencies working together for a singular purpose, and is typical of the public benefit projects we’ve been involved with under Governor Pataki’s direction for lowering energy costs around the state.”

The pending energy efficiency initiative at Whiteface and Gore Mountains follows Governor Pataki’s announcement in August of $5 million in state funding to improve snowmaking, grooming and trail maintenance at Whiteface; expand educational programs; and upgrade facilities and operations. Over the years, his administration has supplied tens of millions of dollars in improvements for the Olympic facilities in and around Lake Placid.

In addition to replacing older snowmaking compressors, the pending energy-efficiency work for ORDA will also include new power-control and heat-recovery features to further cut energy costs.

The earlier phases of NYPA’s partnership with the Olympic authority, dating back to 1997, led to the installation of a diesel-powered compressor and snowmakers that have reduced ORDA’s annual energy bills by nearly $150,000.

The Power Authority and NYSERDA have also worked with Lake Placid and the other Tri-Lakes communities (Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake) to identify opportunities for helping residents and businesses to lower their energy costs. The two state organizations are teaming up on October 28 with National Grid and the New York State Public Service Commission for the second annual Tri-Lakes Energy Expo, at the Harrietstown Town Hall Auditorim in Saranac Lake, to provide information on energy-saving products and services.

NYPA is also contributing $2 million for “green building” technologies for the new Lake Placid Conference Center, and moving ahead on plans with the village to install energy-efficient refrigerators in public housing units.