Energy Leadership Award

Friday, September 30, 2016

On Tuesday I traveled up to Killington for Efficiency Vermont's 5th Annual Best Practices Exchange.  Attendees came from all over the state and were from both the commercial and industrial sectors.  The day focused on technology and learning.  Before I go too far, a brief description of what Efficiency Vermont is.  If you look on your Vermont electric bill, you will see that there is an "Energy Efficiency Charge."  That money funds Efficiency Vermont, who helps Vermonters, residential and commercial, reduce their energy use.  Mount Snow has been working with Efficiency VT for about 13 yrs and they have assisted us with dozens of projects.  

What I really like about Efficiency Vermont is that they help us quantify the return on projects so we can evaluate their value upfront.  They also offer incentives and that makes it much easier for us, especially on the capital intense projects like snowmaking.  There is also measurement so you know how your project is performing in comparison to your forecasts. 

At the exchange I went to several discussions, one led by our own Jason Perl, who heads up our lift department.  He explained how we have just completed a project to put all drive terminal heaters on timers to reduce electrical consumption.  This idea, born at Mount Snow, sounds simple but many ski areas do not have timers in place and must rely on staff to turn the heat off and on.  This becomes a significant task when you have a few heaters in each terminal and dozens of lifts spread out over hundreds of acres. And let's face it, when it is achingly cold, turning off the heat just seems counterintuitive.  Here's a few things you may not know about our lifts.  

Mount Snow heats the drive terminals but not the return.  All of Mount Snow's drives are at the top (except lift #16.)  The object of the heat is to keep certain parts warm so they function properly.  When you see a mechanic scurry up the ladder into the big terminal is it warm up there?  No, not really.  They are not insulated so the heat escapes quickly.  Many ski areas direct the heat on the crucial parts with blowers or radiant.

Efficiency Vermont has been monitoring how much time heaters are on and in some cases they are left on 24/7, some even in the summer months.  I know it sounds insane but it happens.  That is why installing programmable timers is important.  Timers can turn heaters off at night and back on in time to warm up for morning operations.

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Jason talking to the group.

At Mount Snow we think we will only need to heat for about 8 hrs daily and in some cases we may get away with as little as 3 hours.

This is where the project becomes really impressive.  It is projected that we will save about 75,000 kWh per year, per lift terminal, on average. That equates to about a 3 week return on investment!  At Mount Snow timers have been installed on 14 terminals and 38 lift houses.  In addition, when we are replacing lift houses, we are building insulated houses and trying to phase out the steal box models you see around the mountain.  

Later in the day, Efficiency Vermont presented awards and I am thrilled to say that Mount Snow received the 2016 Energy Leadership Award!  Here are a few of Mount Snow's accomplishments:

*26 energy efficiency projects completed since 2003. ~7,000,000 kWh per year in total project savings, not including the Grand Summit Resort Hotel.

*Grand Summit Hotel & Conference Center has completed 10 projects since 2009.  Their largest savings project to date is the addition of VFD controls to the cooling tower and heat pump loops and energy monitoring of this equipment.

*Excellent engagement with staff at all levels

*Very focused on snowmaking efficiency; largest subscriber to the Great Snow Gun Roundup – 645 total new low-e guns.

*Largest terminal heater controls project to date 

As I mentioned earlier, the assistance from Efficiency Vermont has been invaluable.  I also have to mention our staff who work behind the scenes to make this happen. From electricians to snowmakers, our staff have spent countless hours installing new technology and searching for new efficiencies.  Peak Resorts has time-after-time found the capital to make the investments and pushed hard for efficiency.  I hope to get the group together and get a photo, which I will post for you to see.  We are already working on our next projects and this recent award just fuels that desire to improve. 

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