CARRABASSETT VALLEY and NEWRY, Maine — Sugarloaf/USA and Sunday River, the two largest ski resorts in Maine, have jointly chosen to offset 100 percent of their resort operations’ electricity usage with energy generated from wind. Together the resorts are now the largest purchaser and consumer of wind power in New England. Under the new plan, electricity generated from wind will be used to offset power use at all resort base lodges, offices, ski lifts, energy-intensive snowmaking operations and three Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Centers. The two resorts are purchasing 30 million kilowatt hours of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from Constellation NewEnergy to achieve this goal. A Green-e certified REC entitles the owner to one megawatt hour of power produced by a green power generator. One certified REC has the environmental impact of indirectly reducing the emissions associated with one megawatt hour of electricity produced by a fossil fuel generator.
Based on a national average utility emissions rate, fulfilling the two resorts’ electricity needs with zero-emission, non fossil fuel sources will keep more than 41 million pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That amount is equivalent to avoiding the C02 emissions produced by 3,600 passenger cars each year and is the same amount of electricity needed to power more than 2,500 average American homes annually. This purchase of wind energy qualifies Sugarloaf and Sunday River to the EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club and supports continuing development of renewable energy sources nationwide.
“The State of Maine is committed to increasing energy independence and supporting the development of renewable energy,” said Governor John Baldacci. “This initiative recognizes that climate change stands to impact Maine’s ski industry. I am pleased that the two largest ski areas in the state are taking a key role in supporting the use of renewable energy, and by doing so, benefiting all Maine people.”
The move to wind power is the latest environmental program taken on by the resorts within their comprehensive environmental initiatives. Both resorts support the National Ski Areas Association Sustainable Slopes program and the Keep Winter Cool Campaign. Sugarloaf and Sunday River have invested in new snowmaking technology in the form of low energy snowguns, which use 40 percent less energy to make snow. Used vegetable oil from community and on-mountain restaurants at Sugarloaf is being recycled into biodiesel fuel for use in the resort’s busses and grooming equipment. In addition to on-mountain bio-diesel use, the resort is also in discussions with the Town of Carrabassett Valley to develop an environmentally friendly transportation system. Recycling programs have been in place at both resorts, and programs addressing wastewater, carpooling, and expanding the use of bio-diesel continue to grow.
“Responsible energy use and reducing our environmental impact have been priorities at Sugarloaf for many years. It’s the responsible thing to do, and we are a great venue to showcase the viability of using renewable energy to large audiences,” said John Diller, Managing Director of Sugarloaf. “Our use of wind power is making the resort even more environmentally friendly, and it will help to support the development of renewable energy nationwide, while showing our guests and staff that we can all contribute to this global effort.”
The resorts purchased their renewable energy through Renewable Energy Certificates. Proceeds from the certificates subsidize the construction and operation of renewable energy generation facilities, which then replaces energy from traditional fossil fuel sources on the national electric grid. Since the majority of airborne pollutants in the Northeast originate in the Midwest where coal dominates the energy mix, reducing emissions from the national electric grid is likely to contribute to a cleaner environment in the Northeast.
“Preserving the environment is key to our business,” said Dana Bullen, Managing Director of Sunday River. “We make a lot of snow here at Sunday River. It’s where we use the most energy. By powering our snowmaking system and all other resort electricity needs with wind power, we’re going to be able to provide the same dependable snow, while greatly reducing our carbon footprint.”