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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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renewable energy

10 US-based ski resorts showing the way on sustainability

We all know that ski resorts have a large environmental footprint. As Outside magazine recently noted, ‘with sprawling mountainside villages, water-guzzling snow machines, and high-powered chairlifts, it’s no secret operating a ski resort can be a dirty business.”

Here in Australia some resorts have taken small steps to reduce their impact, but its still fairly dismal when you consider their overall operations. Outside have recently listed the best 10 US-based resorts when it comes to environmental responsibility. While the bigger resorts that come with having a much larger population have greater financial capacity to change their operations, these examples do provide some ideas for any resorts here who are serious about taking their environmental and climate responsibilities seriously.

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REI: ‘our electricity has been 100% renewable since 2013’

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.

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Bright Community Energy Roadshow

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.

Bright, August 2.

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Snowy 2.0 hydro project to avoid environmental scrutiny?

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.

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Lake Tahoe Resort to run on 100% Renewables

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.

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Sustainable small towns

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.

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The Snowy Hydro Scheme 2.0

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.

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the Dinner Plain Clean Energy Initiative

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.

You can switch your electricity supplier here.

For every person that switches, Powershop will make a donation to the DP Community Energy project. You can also switch your Melbourne home using the above link to support the DP Community.

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Ski Resort Installing Solar Array

Mountain Journal has previously reported on the sustainability initiatives of Mt. Abram ski area in the USA. They have recently substantially deepened their direct investment in renewable energy.

This report comes from NECN news.

A western Maine ski resort is installing an 803-panel solar array it says should eventually provide 70 percent of the resort’s annual electricity needs.

Jamie Schectman, the marketing director of Mt. Abram ski area in Greenwood, says the project is expected to produce more than 280,000 kilowatt hours annually.

Part of the project will be paid with up to $235,000 from a 25 percent matching grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program.

The Sun Journal reports that the total cost of the project is expected to be less than $1 million.

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.

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