Okemo Re-energizes Wind Power Commitment

By AlpineZone News |
Dec 18 2007 - 09:21 AM

LUDLOW, Vermont — Okemo Mountain Resort is officially continuing its commitment to environmental stewardship through the purchase of enough renewable energy certificates to offset 100 percent of the resort’s electric energy use. Last year, resort owners Tim and Diane Mueller entered into an agreement to purchase 27 million kilowatt hours of wind-generated power for their three resorts: Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, Mount Sunapee Resort, in New Hampshire, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. The Mueller’s purchase of wind power saved the release of approximately 18,800 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere ??“ an amount equivalent to emissions produced by the annual electricity consumption of approximately 2,200 average homes or the combustion of 1.9 million gallons of gasoline.

“Protection of the environment is one of our core values. It is also very important to our guests,” says Tim Mueller.

Working toward that core value this year, Okemo is implementing some new practices and programs.

Okemo has made a major investment in reducing the amount of energy used to make snow over the years. The most visual of those energy-conscious efforts is the resort’s arsenal of HKD tower guns. The greatest amount of energy consumed in the snowmaking process comes from the creation of compressed air that mixes with water to make snow. Old-fashioned ground guns and sled-mounted snowmaking guns generally produce snow at an air-to-water ratio of about 10:1. HKDs can cover trails more efficiently and with a broader spread, using a ratio as little as 1:1. Also, because the water and air are being combined in nozzles attached to elevated towers, the water molecules have more “hang time” to crystallize for a better snow surface. Thirty new HKD Genesis tower guns designed to project snow with pinpoint accuracy are being used on narrow slopes and along slopeside home access trails requiring focused, directional throw. Okemo is also testing a variety of new snowmaking guns on its Open Slope, just above the Clock Tower base area. Featuring adjustable water flow levers, nozzle versatility and new valving technology, 15 new SV-10 snowguns, able to make snow efficiently at closer-to-freezing temperatures, have been installed as demos so Okemo’s top-rated snowmaking team can thoroughly test the technology, providing feedback to further develop this specialized snowmaking equipment.

With 97 percent of its terrain equipped with snowmaking capabilities, the demand for compressed air is great. The resort recently spent $30,000 to upgrade its primary compressor with an SCR catalytic converter to reduce its NOx emissions by 95 percent. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) include various nitrogen compounds like nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). These compounds play an important role in the atmospheric reactions that create harmful particulate matter, ground-level ozone and acid rain. Okemo’s installation of a new SCR catalytic converter will improve air quality by removing nitrogen oxides through a chemical reaction between the exhaust gases, a reductant additive, and a catalyst.

Okemo’s Building Maintenance team is helping the resort’s commitment to the environment too. Following an energy audit last year, Okemo has implemented a plan to reduce energy consumption by 30 to 40 percent. Okemo has replaced 323 fluorescent ballasts and substituted 1,062 Super T8 light bulbs in its base lodge lighting systems. This newest generation of lamps improves the lighting and reduces energy and maintenance costs. Okemo has installed 65 occupancy sensors, and plans to install another 70 throughout the resort. Occupancy sensors automatically turn lights off when a room is vacated and makes sure lights stay on when someone is in the room. Similarly, vendmisers were installed in 18 soda machines around the resort A vendmiser is a device that powers down a vending machine to conserve energy when no one is nearby.

A new recycling program at Okemo began recently with the collection of office paper and has expanded to include the collection of glass, plastic and aluminum.

Okemo is also forming an environmental management committee to identify and implement other ways the resort can continue its commitment to environmental stewardship.

For more information, please call (802) 228-1600 or visit www.okemo.com.