New York Ski Resorts Turn to Solar Power

State-run resorts will save $14 million by opting for alternative energy

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that three state operated ski resorts are going green. Belleayre, Gore, and Whiteface Mountain will begin using solar panel technology to run their chairlifts and snowmaking machines.

PHOTO: Courtesy of ORDA/ Whiteface Lake Placid
PHOTO: Courtesy of ORDA/ Whiteface Lake Placid.

The three mountain resorts are operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), which was created by the state to manage the 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid.

Belleayre will run their lifts and machines 100 percent on solar energy by March 2016, Gore on 85 percent, and Whiteface close to 40 percent, said Jon Lundin, communications director of ORDA.

“Our goal is to move everything to solar energy,” Lundin said of the switch.

Not only will this be environmentally beneficial, says Lundin, but it will also save the three mountain resorts a total of $14 million combined over the course of 25 years.

PHOTO: Courtesy of NYSERDA.
PHOTO: Courtesy of NYSERDA.

Protect Our Winters is a nonprofit that raises awareness within the snowsports industry on how climate change impacts mountain communities.

Executive Director of Protect Our Winters, Chris Steinkamp, who grew up skiing Whiteface, said, “We have to get off of fossil fuel. We’ve got to get to zero, and this is a step in the right direction.”

Steinkamp said he hopes Whiteface eventually moves from using 40 percent solar power to being 100 percent powered by the alternative energy, acknowledging major transitions like this take time, saying that we “can’t expect this stuff to happen overnight.”

Other Eastern mountain resorts have adopted clean energy such as Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts and Mount Abram in Maine. Aspen Ski Co. also utilizes solar farms for some of their resorts.

These measures taken by ORDA are aimed at lowering the state’s carbon footprint and come in response to the governor’s NY-Sun initiative, a billion-dollar investment in solar energy.

“By using renewable energy to power major operations at these world-class ski resorts, we are making the region a cleaner and greener place for people to live and work,” said Gov. Cuomo.

The shift to solar also falls in time with the Clean Power Plan announced by President Obama and EPA on August 3. The plan is designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from American power plants.