Snowbird Resort Shows Off New Power Plant
SNOWBIRD, Utah — As Utah strains the power grid to keep cool, Snowbird is revving up a new power system that will make the resort almost entirely energy independent and coal free.
The upgraded power system will supply up to 100% of the resort’s power. The resort held a ribbon-cutting Friday before turning on the new power plant.
“The ski industry uses a lot of power,” said Dave Fields, president and general manager of Snowbird Resort. “But now, we’ll be able to create all of the power we need on 95% of the days we’re operating in the cleanest way possible.”
Snowbird isn’t off the power grid, but they’re pretty close. The resort was already using a unique, efficient power system. Friday they showed off the upgrade.
— Jed Boal (@jedboal) July 9, 2021
The new power plant, located at the far northeast end of the resort is called Snowbird Power Systems. It allows the resort to efficiently generate nearly all of its own power.
“This power facility represents a long-term major capital investment to sustainability, and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Fields.
It’s a cogeneration plant, or combined heat and power facility. Snowbird Power Systems replaces an older cogeneration plant that was installed in 1987, making Snowbird the only ski resort in North America to have a plant like this.
The new cogeneration plant generates electricity with natural gas, powering nearly all of the energy needs for the entire resort to include all lodges, the aerial tram, and other chairlifts. It recycles the excess, wasted heat to warm facilities and water, rather than using other energy sources.
“We have energy independence,“ said Fields.
In a conventional power plant as much as 2/3 of the energy is wasted as heat energy, and only 1/3 can be used as electricity. This system limits that energy loss to 15 to 20% to raise the useful efficiency of heat and power to 80 to 85%.
“Being able to produce locally gives them some security, and also it reduces their carbon footprint,” said Thom Carter, Energy Adviser to Governor Cox. “There are a lot of great benefits for having us up here.”
Snowbird Power Systems saves the resort 62,000 dekatherms of natural gas a year. That’s the equivalent of removing the carbon dioxide emissions from burning over 4 million pounds of coal.
“We need to make capital investments like this that reduce our carbon footprint and ensure that we’ll be able to ski in Little Cottonwood Canyon for years to come,” said Fields.
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