In terms of outdoor retail stores in the USA, REI has an enormous influence. This is both good and bad: it’s ubiquitous presence and huge buying power can threaten smaller, locally owned businesses. On the other hand, it is a co-op which shares benefits back to members, supports some good outdoors initiatives, and provides affordable gear to millions of people.
REI has also taken some significant steps to reduce its environmental impact and has recently released an interesting update on it’s efforts to source all it’s electricity from renewable sources.
Community energy gives local towns and regions power over how they generate and consume electricity. Locally generated renewable energy will create local jobs, cleaner energy and allow the community to control where their energy comes from.
Come find out how community energy can benefit Bright and our region. Three great speakers who are leaders in this field will outline what community energy is and how we can benefit from it.
It is being reported that the Snowy 2.0 Hydro project has been given ‘critical’ status for NSW, fast-tracking its development, amid concerns it may skirt environmental obligations.
The ‘critical’ status means the project no longer has to go through as rigorous a planning process and will only require the sign-off of the NSW Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts. However, there will still be some environmental and community impact investigations.
Next winter, Squaw Valley Ski Corporation, who have two resorts at Lake Tahoe in California, plans to source all its electricity from solar and other renewable sources. This will make it the first ski resort in the USA to power its operations without fossil fuels.
Totally Renewable Yackandandah is a volunteer run community group, formed in 2014, with the goal of powering their town with 100% renewable energy and achieving energy sovereignty by 2022.
One of TRY’s standout projects is the TRY Perpetual Energy Fund (PEF), which raises funds from donations that are reinvested in community projects around Yack to increase energy efficiency, generate renewable electricity and for storage. Loans are repaid from the savings made on electricity bills and the Fund is perpetuated for community sustainability projects. The first project was with Yackandandah Health Service (YHS). In 2015, TRY raised $5,000, which was loaned to YHS for the energy efficiency improvements. The connection of a 90kW solar-panel system at Yackandandah Health Service (YHS) replacement of 276 light fittings with low maintenance LED lights.
TRY is a great example of community controlled initiatives which are designed to transition to a more sustainable basis while also building a sense of community power.
The Federal Government’s announcement of a feasibility study into the expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme in NSW could potentially break the current impass in the fossil fuels vs renewables energy debate.
Pumped hydro represents stored energy, which can be created through the use of renewables. It is a ‘game changer’ in that it can, in effect, provide baseload power for when renewable energy supplies like wind and solar need back up. This will be done through what is called Pumped Hydro.
The Dinner Plain Clean Energy Initiative is a great new program. It aims to offer cheaper, pollution free electricity generated from renewable sources, as well as new technology alternatives to replace antiquated, polluting and expensive gas heating and hot water systems.
Mt. Abram co-owner Matt Hancock said the solar project “continues the advancement of our clean energy game plan – utilizing abundant, local and readily available resources wherever and whenever possible.”
You can read more about the sustainability initiatives at Mt Abram here.
The following comes from the ESPN Action Sports website and shows what is possible with a bit of effort and vision.
As the environmental agenda continues to slip from the concerns of most resort management bodies in Australia, it has been the snow sports community who have stepped into a leadership position, with a large number of lodges and businesses signing up for solar PV panels over the past year, especially at Mt Hotham.
The following is the introduction to the article, please check the website for the full piece.
The author is Jesse Huffman.
U.S. ski resorts tap renewable energy sources to combat climate change
As the volatility of the 2011-12 season made clear, the stake ski resort’s have in resolving climate change is a big one. Over the past three years, resorts like Bolton, Burke, Jiminy Peak and Grouse Mountain have installed wind turbines, while others have pursued efficiency updates, in an effort to responsibly produce, and reduce, the power and heat involved in swinging chairs and heating lodges all winter long. Now, four more areas, from local ski hills in the Northeast to major resorts in the Rockies, have installed or invested in renewable power sources ranging from solar to biomass to coalmine methane.
Smuggler’s Notch closed early this winter after a spring meltdown saw the highest March temperatures in Vermont’s history. The same solar energy that drove skiers and riders batty as it took away their snow is now being put to use by an array of 35 solar trackers, which collectively produce 205,000 kWh per year — around five percent of Smuggler’s total electrical use. The array provides enough juice for most of the resort’s Village Lodge.
Dan Maxon, Smuggler’s Notch Solar Installation Project Manager, toured me through the installation on a recent morning, when the GPS-enabled trackers, manufactured by a Vermont company called ALLEarth Renewables, were tilted east to catch the a.m. sun.
“We believe it is important not only for ski resorts, but for all energy users to take some responsibility for their energy consumption,” Maxon told me. “There was a good confluence of energy and desire that made this project come together — we’d been looking at various renewable projects for six-seven years, but couldn’t pull them off. This one we could.”
Aspen is often seen as being one of the greenest of the global resorts, so I have included the section of the essay that relates to them. Coal bed methane is a fiercely contested issue across many parts of the world, so Aspen’s choice of energy source is interesting:
In Colorado, Aspen Ski Company is taking a leading role in developing an innovative form of clean energy from coalmine methane. The practice of venting methane from coalmines to prevent underground explosions has turned into a climate change bottleneck with 20 times more warming potential than CO2, coalmine methane contributed ten percent of the all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, according to the EPA.
Aspen is the capital investor in a new project at Elk Creek Mine that uses waste methane to power a dynamo and generate electricity, downgrading the methane to CO2 and at the same time. The project is a first of its scale in the United States, and helped net the resort a National Ski Area Association Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence this year.
“We’ve been looking for a large scale clean energy project for over a decade and we finally found one,” says Auden Schendler, Aspen Vice President of Sustainability.
Schendler expects the 3 megawatt project to go online around September, and says that in a matter of month it will make approximately the same amount of electricity that Aspen uses annually, around 25 million kilowatt hours. “Because we’re destroying methane in the process,” adds Schendler, “this is equivalent to triple offsetting our carbon footprint each year.”