Energy Management Innovation in the US Ski Industry

EPA Grant Number: SU831884
Title: Energy Management Innovation in the US Ski Industry
Investigators: Troxell, Wade O.
Current Investigators: Troxell, Wade O. , Davis, Ashley , Dean, Jesse , Jansen, Seth
Institution: Colorado State University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: August 25, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Air Quality , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


Ski areas represent a unique opportunity to develop innovative energy management practices in an industrial setting. Through a unique synergy of onsite generation, preferably by renewable sources and innovative technologies, and the energy storage potential of existing compressed air and pumped water snowmaking infrastructure, ski areas might achieve significant peak demand reductions and increased flexibility in load scheduling. This project seeks to develop a model for ski area energy management that combines established demand side management techniques with this unique synergy to achieve reduced need for fossil fueled generation, lower energy rates for the ski area and surrounding community, and improved power quality for all of the local utilities customers.


Ski areas represent a somewhat unique industrial opportunity to combine energy storage through existing infrastructure with onsite energy generation. Resources available for energy generation at many ski areas include the renewables wind, solar and micro-hydroelectric; the highly efficient combined heat and power cycle with a natural gas turbine; and existing grid connect. Ski areas, in order to serve their snowmaking requirements, also host powerful compressed air and pressurized water delivery systems. These two systems are used individually in many applications worldwide as technically sound mediums for energy storage. Through an innovative utilization of these resources, ski areas might store power in compressed air and pressurized water to reduce peak demand and increase the flexibility of scheduling in snowmaking and lift operations. The energy stored might readily be generated by renewables onsite. In addition, the generally large heating load presented by a ski area's facilities creates a good potential application for combined heat and power, which can also work in concert with compressed air energy storage to reduce fuel demand and emissions.

The developed energy management model will enable a ski area to greatly reduce its energy demands. This will have a number of positive effects on the larger regional community. For the local energy provider, there will be reduced demand at peak periods and overall, thereby lessening the need to purchase or generate from fossil fueled sources. This reduced demand, and the potential for slower demand growth in the future, will reduce the pressure on the provider to expand transmission. This is particularly valuable considering the cost and impacts associated with installing transmission in typically mountainous terrain. In addition, and to the benefit of the local community, reduced loads to serve at the ski area will allow for more reliable and higher quality power delivery to other customers.

Reductions in demand and increased potential for economically viable renewable energy generation onsite will result in a decrease in demand for fossil fueled energy generation. This will result in a socially beneficial reduction in emissions and nonrenewable resource consumption.

This energy management model will be researched and developed by a particular design team within the undergraduate ME 486 Senior Design Practicum course during the fall and spring terms.

Supplemental Keywords:

innovative technology, engineering, pollution prevention, sustainability, air, ambient air, atmosphere, global climate, ski industry, energy efficiency, power., Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Energy, Economics and Business, Ecology and Ecosystems, Environmental Engineering, snow making alternative technologies, cleaner production, environmentally friendly technology, clean technology, emission controls, energy efficiency, engineering, energy storage, air emissions, ski industry, environmental management plan, environmentally conscious design

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report