Letter to the editor: Green winters for Tahoe ski resorts? | SierraSun.com

Letter to the editor: Green winters for Tahoe ski resorts?

Environment |

Green winters for Tahoe ski resorts?

Over the past several years ski resorts have been graded for their environmental friendliness by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition. Through this grading process, resorts underwent an extensive investigation from the Coalition that left most with honorable results. So, I decided to approach two local resorts to find out what actions they are taking to make our winters greener.

Squaw has been doing a lot of behind the scenes work to lessen their environmental impact. Some of the resorts improvements include, using a Geo thermal heat pump in their 15,000 square feet children’s center which saves an outstanding 92,700 KWh each season.

New elevators were installed that uses 50 percent less energy of the one’s replaced. A Silicone Control Rectifier (S.C.R) motor was installed in 2000 to regulate the minimal amount of energy needed to run the cable car depending on load size. This device alone saved 3,524,000 KWh since its instillation.

Squaw has also demonstrated amazing progress in recycling. Last season more than 2,700 gallons of oil was picked up and recycled by Asbury Environmental Service. Also 25 drums (55 gallon drums) of miscellaneous oils and paints were picked up by Ramos Environmental. On site Squaw installed a system that recycled 600 gallons of antifreeze last season. Also Squaw recycles 100 percent of their batteries in the onsite vehicle shop. With these improvements in mind it’s obvious why they received an “A” from the coalition.

Murray Blaney, a General Manager at Mount Rose, is accepting the green challenge and has made plans for the future that could place them in Squaws current position as the greenest resort in the Tahoe region. Rose is currently demonstrating strong leadership in the green movement with recent improvements such as the self-regulating heating unit that saves the resort 25 percent of heating costs annually. They also plan to begin construction on a new green lodge this summer. The lodge will be engineered to be supper insulated as well as using the natural resources and passive solar to heat the building. The most revolutionary of Rose’s plans is to install three 3KWh windspier turbines on the backside of the mountain beside their Green lodge.

“It was the windspire’s unique style that really grabbed my attention,” said Murray. Unlike other turbines the windspire is not a horizontal wind turbine, but a vertical axis turbine. This means it rotates like a Merry-Go-Round instead of a pixy wheel. Not only is this style more aesthetically pleasing but it also puts out a lot less sound than that of other turbines. As for the wind concerns at Rose, the windspires advertise to be capable of handling winds as high as 105 mph and catching winds as low as 8 mph. so standing in at 3 kWh with a five-year warranty and costing only 6,500 it became clear to rose that this was their turbine.

Murray says they expect these turbines to be installed this summer and operating by Christmas of 2009.

As of now Mount Rose holds a solid B, but we can expect to see a proud “A” on their report card in the near future. The coalition hopes that through this grading process more resorts will become motivated to clean up their act. With Rose and Squaw stepping it up the pressure is on for other resorts to kick it into gear “green”.

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