Solar and other renewable energies are hitting the slopes in California. The Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts, each owned by the same Colorado company, and both located near Lake Tahoe, intend to operate on nothing but renewables by December 2018. Squaw Valley also plans to store some of the energy they produce using Tesla batteries, which will help bring them to 100 percent renewable energy usage.
But these are not the first resorts to move in this direction. As the L.A. Times reports, Boreal Mountain, also located in the Lake Tahoe area, “installed 750 solar panels on the roof of its indoor sports facility on the base of the resort’s mountain.” As a result, they expect to save $1.5 million over 30 years. Also, Soda Springs ski resort now uses 100 percent recycled water for its artificial snow. Vail Resorts has a 2030 target to eliminate all emissions and landfill waste at all 11 of its resorts.
While protecting the environment is the primary motivation, there are good business reasons to reduce emissions, as well. Even with considerable up-front costs, the long-term expected savings make renewables worth the financial investment. And many customers—especially Millennials—will choose more environmentally-friendly businesses if given the choice.
In fact, Visit California, the state’s tourism agency, did a study in 2016 that showed that 63 percent of visitors were more likely to visit places that demonstrated a strong effort to protect the environment. And as noted by the L.A. Times, “At Boreal, 78% of the 250 guests who were questioned said environmental sustainability is important to them.” While issues such as snow conditions are likely central factors in choosing a ski location, all things being equal, a resort that’s protecting the environment through recycling efforts and renewable energy is likely going to reap the benefits in increased attendance. Clearly, going green means bringing in the greenbacks. Everyone wins—especially the Earth.
The Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts will be working with Liberty Utilities Co., which currently uses renewable sources to generate 25 percent of its energy, in their conversion to renewable energy. Liberty aims to generate 100 percent of its energy from renewables, so this partnership makes sense for the resorts’ long-term goals.