Jiminy Peak ski resort in Berkshires, New England has installed wind turbine to reduce its annual electric bill. The 386-foot, $3.9 million turbine has been nicknamed Zephyr. The turbine cut the resort's electricity costs by $200,000 in 2008. The resort earlier planned to spend $1.8 million on a smaller turbine but the suppliers declined to bid for a single turbine. The energy unit of General Electric Company provided the 1.5 megawatt wind turbine unit.

The resort now expects to earn more than $200,000 a year by selling power through the national grid utility and producing tax credits.

The ersort’s wind turbine project was funded through a combination of bank loans and a state grant and renewable energy credits sold to from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and Community Energy Inc.

In 2006, Vail Resorts purchased about 52,000 megawatt hours of wind energy credits to offset all of its annual power consumption its five ski areas and other businesses, making it one of the largest corporate users in the nation.

Whistler Blackcomb resort in British Columbia is constructing is hydro electric power project, which is expected to end in November 2009. The project has ben valued at $32 million and will offset the annual energy consumption at the ski area. The project will produce 33.5 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to send the facility into greenhouse gas production deficit, said Arthur De Jong, mountain planning manager.

The wind turbine came about because we had done all these things and there was no more low-hanging fruit, Brian Fairbank said, who has run the resort for three decades. We now make twice the amount of snow, with half the amount of money that we did 15 years ago.

Bill Swersey, who has skied at the western Massachusetts resort on the New York border every year since the late 1970s, said that the turbine was a powerful symbol of environmentally friendly skiing.

I think that you sometimes feel like skiing is an indulgence sport. You know it uses a lot of energy between the lifts and the snowmaking and the lighting … and the fact that they can offset even some of it with wind energy is great, Swersey, said.

David Rooney, president of the nonprofit Berkshire Economic Development Corp., said that the Jiminy Peak resort has become a model for large-scale renewable energy production at ski resorts.

I think that it’s changed the skiing experience in that it’s shown skiers that you can have renewable energy projects right on the mountain side, that you can bring renewable energy together with your skiing experience and have that add to that experience, Rooney said. Green skiing sells.

Many resorts are studying wind power, including Aspen in Colorado, Blue Mountain and Shawnee Mountain in Pennsylvania as well as Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, Troy Hawks spokesman for the National Ski Areas Association said.

In the rugged Sierra Nevada range, the Kirkwood ski resort near Lake Tahoe is looking at installing 20 turbines, Hawks said.

Prior to this, they were buying renewable energy credits, basically they were paying a premium … so the next step only made sense that they would have a wind turbine on their property generating electricity, Hawks said.