There’s no question that the previous winter was a tough one. Despite the hardships endured, the ski resorts of North America are going to keep building up their operations and services to ensure the following season is the best it can possibly be. One of the saving graces of the 2011/2012 season was the widespread implementation of upgraded snowmaking equipment – especially on the east coast. This preparation proved to be a huge success, and allowed many resorts to maintain snow conditions that would have otherwise been impossible. With this increased reliance upon snowmaking operations, it’s imperative that resorts ensure they are optimizing their efforts for energy efficiency and environmental impact.
Sugarloaf announced today that it will invest $1 million in new low-energy snowguns this summer. The new technology is expected to improve the resort’s ability to make snow in key areas and at warmer temperatures, while simultaneously reducing its electricity consumption.
The investment was made possible by a $300,000 business grant from Efficiency Maine, an independent trust dedicated to the efficient and cost-effective use of energy in order to save money for Maine residents, grow the economy, and create jobs. The competitive grant program allowed Maine businesses, institutions, and governments to compete for project funding for large electrical energy efficiency and distributed generation projects. The grant was awarded based on the expected energy savings from the new snowmaking technology and a commitment of a $700,000 investment from Sugarloaf.
The resort will use the funding to purchase 300 HKD SV10 Impulse snowguns, the most advanced energy-efficient snowmaking technology on the market. The new guns, manufactured by Snow Economics Inc. / HKD Snowmakers, will replace Sugarloaf’s older, less efficient snowmaking equipment. The HKD SV10 Impulse guns are able to make the same amount of snow using up to 90 percent less compressed air (depending on temperature). Compressed air production represents the largest area of electricity consumption in the snowmaking process.
“After the weather we saw last winter, we decided that upgrading our snowmaking capabilities needed to be a priority this summer,” Sugarloaf General Manager John Diller said. “Some of our sister resorts have experimented with this new low-energy technology over the past two seasons, so we know how well it works. It will allow us to produce more snow at key times, while reducing the overall amount of electricity we consume. It’s really a win-win.”
Check out one of these babies in action! She purrs like a kitten:
The new snowmaking technology will greatly improve Sugarloaf’s ability to make snow at warmer temperatures and open trails early in the season, resulting in more available terrain during the important Christmas vacation period. In addition, the new equipment will allow the resort to build up larger base depths on key trails, improving its ability to stay open later in the spring.
Of the new snowguns, 275 will be installed on towers in fixed locations, while the remaining 25 will be sled-mounted guns that can be transported around the mountain and utilized in multiple locations. The fixed tower-guns will be installed primarily on central-mountain trails, including King’s Landing, Hayburner, Tote Road, Sluice, and Candyside.
The new equipment is expected to arrive at the resort in late summer and will be installed this fall, prior to Sugarloaf’s opening day.
The investment is part of the resort’s “Sugarloaf 2020” ten-year development plan, which over the past two years has added nearly 400 acres of new terrain and a new state-of-the-art chairlift, as well as numerous other resort upgrades.