Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Test to gauge the viability of wind turbines at Snowmass

The Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) has successfully installed a 164-foot-tall wind tower at the top of the Snowmass Ski Area to determine if wind turbines are feasible there. The initial installation of the tower was delayed last month when a winch failed, resulting in damage to the original tower and a slowdown on the project. The new tower was erected on the slope above the top terminal of the Big Burn chairlift. Anemometers will measure wind speed and direction at heights of 45, 55 and 65 meters. Data will be collected and evaluated over the next year. The experiment is being run in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and Leitwind, a subsidiary of Leitner-Poma, which will assess the data. Turbines produce enough power to make a feasible return on investment, especially since the company could eliminate the volatility of energy prices. ASC hopes to assemble at least three wind turbines at the top of the Burn and produce between 66 and 100 percent of the power needed by the Aspen resorts. "It’s an environmental and a business move" Auden Schendler, Executive Director of Sustainability, said.
Starting in 1997, Aspen Skiing Company pioneered ski industry purchases of wind power, when we ran the Cirque lift on 100% wind power. From 2006 to 2008 the Company purchased renewable energy credits equivalent to our electricity use.