Vail Resorts is a green power player |

Vail Resorts is a green power player

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
AP file photoTurbines blow in the wind at an Xcel Energy wind farm located on the border of Colorado and Wyoming. Vail Resort joined major corporations like Intel, PepsiCo and Starbuck on a list of top US renewable energy buyers

VAIL, Colorado ” Vail Resorts ranked 25th among green power purchasers in the nation this year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s latest report.

Since 2006, the Broomfield-based company has purchased wind credits to offset energy use at its five resorts, lodging properties, retail stores and corporate headquarters. Other top purchasers include companies and organizations such as Starbucks (18th), the U.S. Department of Energy (23rd), the state of Pennsylvania (12th), Johnson and Johnson (seventh) and Pepsi (second). Intel took the top spot.

“Energy credits” are purchased by a company as an investment into a renewable energy source. The EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact, small hydroelectric sources.

For example, Vail Resort’s wind credits go toward the cost to start up wind farms, displacing energy that would have been produced through burning fossil fuels.

“We take a lot of pride in this initiative as we do with all of our environmental efforts through our (sustainability program),” said Vail Resorts spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga. “We carefully select initiatives that are beneficial to the environment because protecting the spectacular natural settings of our resorts is not only good for our business, it’s also the right thing to do.”

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Vail Resorts has several other efforts on the green front, including an energy “layoff” that began in May of last year. The goal is to cut energy use at the resorts by 10 percent in two years.

Vail Mountain has switched over to more efficient snowmobiles and snowmaking equipment, has its own recycling program, and recently installed an experimental solar panel array at the top of Eagle’s Nest.

Hydropower is in the works, too. The mountain is studying the potential of using the mountain’s streams to create power ” maybe even enough to run a lift.

Some critics of the power purchasing program argue that buying energy credits doesn’t make up for the energy the company has already used, nor is there any way to monitor how much of the money from credits actually goes toward energy production.

Matt Scherr, executive director of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, said that buying energy credits needs to go hand in hand with other energy-saving efforts.

Without other efforts to reduce and reuse, buying energy credits would be like “buying the giant SUV and then buying energy credits to offset it,” he said.

“Vail is doing both, which I think is great,” Scherr said. “They reduce their energy load as well as the (credits) they buy. The credit system may not be perfect, but I applaud any company that says lets go out and do something about it.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

To see the EPA’s list of top renewable energy buyers, visit

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