Mt. Abram: How One Feeder Hill is Fighting Back // Ski Industry News
Remember the Community Ski Area Survey we launched last Spring with our friends at Mountain Rider’s Alliance and the Antelope Butte Foundation? Well we just heard some great news regarding Mt. Abram, MRAprototype Mountain Playground.
This past October, the small feeder hill located in Maine installed a 803 solar panel array. It’s estimated that these solar panels will power approximately 70% of the ski area’s energy needs. This is simply the latest maneuver by the mountain to focus its efforts on reducing costs and environmental footprint.
The ski industry is living in a constant contradiction as they rely heavily on predictable, snowy winters while consuming enormous amounts of electricity and water. The effects of climate change can be seen most strongly in ski areas with lower elevations and smaller vertical drops. Mt. Abram, measuring in at 1,150 vertical feet with 44 trails, has seen the effects of climate change first hand, and is doing what it can to fight back.
In addition to the resort’s latest solar panel project, they’ve also introduced a new snowmaking system which is more energy efficient. This improvement increases both uphill water capacity and pressure four times, greatly increasing the output of snow. As a result, the mountain is able to combat climate change by using man-made snow to open the mountain earlier while simultaneously improving trail quality- including improvements to the terrain park.
Beyond these two large improvements, Mt. Abram has also switched to a wood pellet heating system that eliminates the use of #2 heating oil, and added two electric vehicle charging stations in their parking lot. In an industry that sees numerous feeder hills close or struggle to re-open each year, Mt. Abram stands in stark contrast to the industry trend.
The success of this small feeder hill in Maine serves as a stark reminder that often times in “David and Goliath” stories, it’s often the David’s of the world who are able to think of out the box and innovate in ways that create real change. In this case, Mt. Abram was put against the ropes and has fought back in a way that could set a precedent for energy efficiency in an industry that’s fighting a battle between profitability and longevity.
Mountain Rider’s Alliance was founded in 2010 and is dedicated to, “Creating Sustainable Mountain Playgrounds.” You can find out more about them right here.
Teton Gravity Research:
Lovitt, Rob. "WOULD YOU LIKE SOLAR PANELS ON YOUR HOME HILL? HERE'S HOW" Teton Gravity Research. Teton Gravity Research, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 23 Dec. 2014.
Basch, Marty. "Solar Switch on for Maine Ski Area." ActionHub. Brighton Resort, n.d. Web. 30 September 2014.