Micro-Hydro Power Plant Installed for Ski Town

Residents of Snowmass Village in Colorado added another renewable energy to their power grid with a 115 kW micro-hydroelectric plant on Fanny Hill at the Snowmass Ski Area. Turbines were installed in the mountain’s water run off pipe system to take advantage of the energy potential the run-off presented.

Denver, Colorado – July 22, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Residents of Snowmass Village in Colorado added another renewable energy to their power grid with a 115 kW micro-hydroelectric plant on Fanny Hill at the Snowmass Ski Area. Spring snow run-off will power the plant from May through August when melting snowpack is at the highest levels. Underground pipes that are used for the ski area’s snowmaking system during the winter are used to channel water off of the mountain during the spring months. Turbines were installed in the pipe system to take advantage of the energy potential the run-off presented. Expelled water is returned to a stream in the area. “This project would not have been possible without overwhelming support from our partners. Now, it’s a successful, transferable and eventually profitable example of on-slope renewables for the whole ski industry,” said Auden Schendler of Aspen Skiing Company (ASC). The plant should generate 250,000 kWh of energy annually. That’s the equivalent to the annual power needs 40 average size homes, and it should offset a half-million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in the area. ASC will also sell power generated by the plant to Holy Cross Energy for a potential earning of US$ 15,000 a year. If the Snowmass plant is successful, ASC has plans to open more micro-hydro schemes at four other mountains and could eventually provide power to 400 homes. The Colorado Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation, and the ASC sponsored the installation. Other supporters of this project include Holy Cross Energy, the turbine manufacturer, Canyon Industries, the Town of Snowmass Village, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency and the StEPP Foundation. This isn’t the first renewable energy project Snowmass has committed to either. They previously purchased enough green tags to offset the power needed to run one of their smaller ‘poma’-style chairlifts, called the ‘Cirque’ lift, which accesses some of area’s highest snowfields.
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