Going with the wind | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Going with the wind

Amanda Fehd

Heavenly Mountain Resort’s parent company Vail Resorts announced Tuesday it will offset 100 percent of its energy use by purchasing wind energy credits.

The company will buy 152,000 megawatt-hours of power from a national wind energy retailer, Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy.

The move offsets energy use at all of Vail’s properties, which include five ski resorts, several hotels, 125 retail locations and a new corporate headquarters in Broomfield, Colo.

“This will cover every aspect of our company so that we’ve become the second largest purchaser of wind power in the country,” said Heavenly Chief Operating Officer Blaise Carrig.

Vail is now second only to Whole Foods in renewable energy purchases.

“We hope this would inspire other large companies to look at it and say yes, we can do this,” Carrig said. “We think it’s a great commitment to the environment and one that has a real impact.”

Sugar Bowl ski resort north of Tahoe began purchasing 100 percent renewable energy this year. Aspen Ski Co. in Colorado announced this spring it would buy 100 percent renewable energy for all four of its resorts. Sierra-at-Tahoe and Northstar-at-Tahoe have purchased a portion of their energy in wind power for several years.

About 30 percent of resorts in America buy some wind power.

Vail’s move will prevent 211 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the air, which is equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road or planting more than 27,000 acres of trees, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This will have really big ripple effects,” said Autumn Bernstein with Sierra Nevada Alliance, a coalition of environmental organizations that issues a Ski Area Score Card each year. “Every time one of these big companies purchases renewable energy, it lowers the price and makes it more possible for everyone else to do it. They will definitely win some big points for doing this in the scorecard.”

Vail received a letter of congratulations Tuesday from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Businesses like yours have flourished thanks to the beauty and splendor of our country’s rugged mountain settings,” the governor wrote. “It is gratifying to see your company investing in renewable energy sources to reinforce its pledge to the natural environment in which it operates and thrives.”

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