Oregon Ski Resort to Run First Green-Powered Chair Lifts on West Coast

Oregon Ski Resort to Run First Green-Powered Chair Lifts on West Coast

In partnership with Portland General Electric and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort will purchase enough clean, renewable wind energy to run a major chairlift at Meadows and the only chairlift at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort.

By purchasing 334 of PGE’s Clean Wind Green Tags supplied by the BEF, Meadows will support generation of 334,000 kilowatt-hours of wind energy. That’s enough green power to run its Shooting Star Express chairlift this season. That equals 6.7% of the company’s average annual power consumption, and will prevent production of 234 tons of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas.

A separate Green Tag purchase will support 33,000 kilowatt-hours of green power, enough to power the Homestead lift at Cooper Spur. That purchase will prevent about 23 tons of carbon dioxide from conventional power generation.

Combined with benefits of other programs already in place, the resort this year has prevented production of 580 tons of carbon dioxide.

According to the Renewable Northwest Project, a non-profit renewable energy advocacy organization, the purchase makes Mt. Hood Meadows the leading ski industry buyer of green power in the Pacific Northwest.

“By supporting renewable energy, we join other ski areas around the country in showing the clear path to a sustainable energy future.” says Dave Riley, vice president and general manager at Meadows.

According to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Meadows’ support for renewable energy makes it the third-largest direct purchaser of Green Tags among North American ski areas. Utah’s Deer Valley (755 Green Tags) and Park City (488 Green Tags) lead the ski industry.

“We’re proud to call Mt. Hood Meadows our partner in supporting a better energy future for the region,” said Angus Duncan president of BEF.

“Their commitment to wind energy through purchasing Green Tags creates an immediate positive impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the long-term benefit of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for energy production.”

Diane Zipper, director of green power programs at RNP, said Mt. Hood Meadows is purchasing enough green power for about 357 average Oregon/NW homes. She said the purchase has the same environmental benefit over the course of one year as not driving the average car 549,900 miles, or planting more than 101 acres of trees.

“Mt. Hood Meadows is making a significant commitment to renewable energy,” Zipper said. “It takes green power purchasers like Mt. Hood Meadows to help transform the market and bring new, clean resources online, and we appreciate their leadership on this issue.”

Green Tags, also known as renewable energy certificates, represent the environmental benefit of renewable power facilities such as wind farms, photovoltaic solar arrays and geothermal generating stations. Each tag purchased by Meadows supports generation of 1,000 kilowatt-hours of green wind power, and represents prevention of 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide.

The renewable power purchases are just the latest in a series of efforts by the resort to engage its customers in support of renewable energy.
  • For the 2004 ski season, season pass purchasers have been encouraged to buy a $20 Green Tag through the ski area’s web site, as a way for them to indirectly offset the impact of greenhouse gases from car travel to and from the mountain. So far, they’ve purchased enough Green Tags to prevent 160 tons of greenhouse gases.

  • During the Spring of 2003, Meadows and BEF created the “mini-Green Tag” -- a one-tenth fractional share of a Green Tag. On Sustainable Slopes Outreach Day (Feb. 22), the resort began offering the $2 “mini-Green Tags” to guests -- as a way for them to offset the impact of one car trip from the Portland metro area to the mountain. Guests last spring purchased enough mini-tags to prevent 17 tons of greenhouse gas.

  • With PGE and Green Mountain Energy, Meadows offered a $20 discount off the price of a lift-ticket to anyone who converted their home power use to renewable power programs. Support for the program prevented 112 tons of carbon dioxide. After Jan. 1, 2004, the promotion expanded to include customers of PacifiCorp who choose green power options provided by 3Phases Energy Services.

  • During the 2002-03 ski season, Meadows bought enough Green Tags to power its Easy Rider chairlift. That purchase equaled about 1% of total resort electric consumption, and prevented about 37 tons of carbon dioxide.
As part of its corporate sustainability initiative, Meadows has taken a lead role in ski industry efforts to counter global warming.

“As a business run by people who love to ski, we reject the passive attitude that regards global warming as inevitable,” Riley said. “It doesn’t need to worsen, and if we start taking positive steps now, it won’t.”

An original signatory to the National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes Environmental Charter, Meadows joined 33 ski areas from around the nation this fall to support S. 139, also known as the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. The bill, which failed to receive Congressional support, would have limited U.S. greenhouse gas production by 2010 to levels produced in 2000.

“The energy future will be powered by smart, clean, renewable power, not the fossil-fueled power plants of yesterday,” says KC Golden, policy director for Climate Solutions in Seattle, Wash. “And Mt. Hood Meadows is showing that the clean energy of the future is available and practical today.”

As a member of the Oregon Natural Step Network, Mt. Hood Meadows encourages other individuals and businesses to take charge of their own impacts on atmospheric warming.

“Protecting snowfall will help us continue to provide quality recreation to thousands of skiers every year, and good jobs to hundreds more,” Riley said. “But we’re not the only type of business that global warming could affect. Farmers, shippers and the regional hydroelectric system all stand to be affected if global warming continues.”