Ski resorts and solar energy, part 3

Vail Solar Array

Reducing energy use before making an investment in clean energy production is a common trend among resorts.

Vail is doing the same, said Luke Cartin, Vail environmental affairs manager. Vail owns and operates six ski resorts, four in Colorado and two in the Lake Tahoe, Calif., area.

Vail aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 10 percent, Cartin said. The company made the pledge two years ago and has so far reduced its energy consumption by 7.3 percent, he said.

“Let’s get as efficient as we can and then we’ll talk about what’s next,” Cartin said.

The company does have a couple solar features between all of its resorts. There are photovoltaic solar panels at the top of Vail Mountain and some that run the trash compacting system at the base of Keystone Mountain Resort, also in Colorado, he said.

Like Aspen, Vail wanted to make its solar installation as relevant as possible. The company put up 8.4 kilowatts of solar panels, which doesn’t make much of a dent in a big ski operation like Vail Mountain Resort.

“But we looked at this café, Baileys, at the top of Vail Mountain,” Cartin said. “And we realized, well, this can provide all of the energy for the whole building.”

So now, instead of having a few panels making a hardly noticeable difference in the ski company’s energy use, it has a fully solar-powered restaurant at the top of its resort, he said.

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Pictured: Vail resort, located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.