Anyone who has ever been skiing can tell you all about the appeal of being on the mountain – the sun in your face, the wind in your hair, and the thrill of watching the tree line fly by as you cruise downhill. It also serves as a great mental reset and reminder to be mindful of the beauty and power of Mother Earth.
Despite the gorgeous snowy peaks, many ski resorts were designed in an era when environmentalism was an afterthought at best.
The old-fashioned cabin-style ski lodge sporting smokestacks and giant wood-burning fireplaces do not portray the climate-forward destinations more and more eco-conscious travelers are searching for. Thankfully, many resorts are addressing these issues.
One example is Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort. Sustainability-minded ski spots take on plans like upgrading the energy efficiency of outdated generators or entering into a ‘sustainability pact’ with local nonprofits. Saddleback is taking things a step further. The western Maine-based mountain has recently agreed with developer Nexamp to build a 31-acre solar farm on its property. This is a move beyond efficiency upgrades and will supply more than 7 MW of pure solar energy annually to the mountain and local communities.
The economic and environmental impact will be immediate. The farm is expected to offset over 14 million pounds of carbon annually while reducing energy costs and adding supplemental income for the mountain.
Representatives at Saddleback and parent company Arctaris are excited about the potential for the farm and what it represents for the future of the mountain as a longstanding partner of the state of Maine. “We are committed to positioning Saddleback for long-term sustainability, both economic and environmental,” said Arctaris founder and managing partner Jonathan Tower. “With this project, Arctaris is significantly advancing both of those goals.”
Saddleback representatives say that ground is being broken soon, with the expectation that the renovations will be completed in time for the start of the 2022-23 ski season. Such a quick turnaround, especially in less-than-ideal conditions for construction, is the relative size of the coming farm. It will be taking up a total of one percent of the resort’s land, meaning that a greater solar infrastructure could come depending on the success of the current venture.