Vail Resorts announces wind energy deal, plan to eliminate single-use plastics

Earlier this month, Vail Resorts, Inc., announced a long-term wind energy contract with Lincoln Clean Energy to purchase the equivalent amount of energy needed to power 100 percent of its North American operations.
Courtesy of Heavenly Valley

Earlier this month, Vail Resorts, Inc., announced a long-term wind energy contract with Lincoln Clean Energy to purchase the equivalent amount of energy needed to power 100 percent of its North American operations.

Through a virtual power purchase agreement Vail Resorts is buying enough energy to offset the power demands of all 17 resorts, while also will enable the development of the Plum Creek Wind Project in Nebraska.

“As a growing company, deeply connected to the outdoors, we made a commitment last year to address our most pressing global and environmental challenges and protect our local communities and natural resources,” Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts said in a release. “Today we are thrilled to announce significant initiatives that will help us achieve our zero net emissions and zero waste to landfill goals, and provide a transparent look at our progress through our first

The Plum Creek Wind Project is expected to be completed in 2020, according to the project’s website. Vail’s agreement with Lincoln Clean Energy, a subsidiary of Ørsted and a leading developer of U.S. renewables, is the first of its kind to be executed by a Colorado-based company as a buyer, according to the company, and will make Vail Resorts the first major company in the leisure and hospitality industry to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity for its North American electricity load by offsetting its usage through a virtual power purchase agreement.

Under the 12-year agreement, Vail Resorts announced it is purchasing 310,000 megawatt hours annually, which is enough to offset its estimated North American electricity use for the 2019 fiscal year by 100 percent, including the recent acquisitions of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Stevens Pass Resort, Okemo Mountain Resort, and Mount Sunapee Resort.

“This agreement is just one of many ways Vail Resorts is working to be an industry leader in preserving the environment by bringing more renewable energy online,” said Katz. “While we continually work with local, state and federal governments and utility partners to find ways to source renewable energy in the markets where our individual resorts are located, this wind power purchase agreement allows us to make a measurable impact on climate change – and its effect on the planet – within just a few years.”

Vail Resorts also announced a partnership with Eco-Products, based in Boulder, Colorado, beginning during the 2018-19 season, to supply all of its North American restaurants with compostable and recycled-content items, while eliminating conventional single-use plastics.

Through this partnership, the Vail Resorts is working to eliminate all single-use, conventional plastic products, such as cups, straws, beverage lids, plates, bowls and cutlery, and replacing them with compostable or recycled-content products. The transitions will take place throughout the 2018-19 season, according to Vail, and is expected to divert nearly 300 tons of waste from landfills over the next two winter seasons.

Other zero waste initiatives from Vail Resorts include: expanding a Smart Straw initiative, where compostable straws will be available by request only across all the company’s North American restaurants; moving to durable products where possible, such as replacing single-use wax paper cups with reusable tumblers everywhere that dishwashing is available (expected to eliminate nearly 300,000 disposable cups this season); using waste-tracking sensors to help better measure current waste streams and identify inefficiencies; and working with graduate students from the University of Colorado Boulder, Masters of the Environment program to conduct waste audits and research to identify opportunities for improvement.

“We are on a journey to re-imagine what it means to be a leader in sustainability by focusing on what’s right for our communities, our mountains and our future,” said Katz. “To succeed, we must rely on our individual and collective participation to ignite a passion for the great outdoors and strong communities for generations to come.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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