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Snowbird Power Systems to Debut in Little Cottonwood Canyon


Snowbird Power Systems is set to become a first-of-its-kind facility in North America at Snowbird Mountain Resort, supplying the popular Wasatch Front destination with enough power to be self-sustaining on all but the busiest of days.


One of the most popular ski destinations in Utah, Snowbird Mountain Resort announced the new “Snowbird Power Systems” power facility. According to Snowbird, the new facility will be able to meet up to 100% of the resort’s power needs and decrease emissions by 80% over more traditional power-generating methods. 


Snowbird has had some form of self-contained power generation since the mid 1980s. The new facility will increase that capacity and generate enough power to supply the entire resort’s infrastructure on all but the busiest of holiday weekends and heaviest snowmaking days, said Snowbird President and COO Dave Fields.


The facility is the first of its kind in North America and Fields told KPCW the high price tag is likely the reason other resorts have not invested in the infrastructure too.


“You could probably buy three high-speed quads for what we’re putting into this power plant,” Fields said. “It takes a long, long term vision, but the Cumming family has always put the health of the environment ahead of a lot of other things and we’re thrilled that they’re willing to invest in this and see that over the long haul -- 10, 20, 30 years -- the impact this cleaner energy makes on our community and our planet really pays off.”


According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which is a federal organization that compiles independent statistics and analysis on energy production, nearly 65% of Utah’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants. 


Snowbird’s facility will instead use compressed natural gas, which burns cleaner than coal and will eliminate the emissions of the equivalent of four million pounds of coal annually. 


Additionally, the 5.3 megawatt facility utilizes what’s called a “cogeneration” system. The system will use water to cool the three gas generators, which will then be used to supply hot water and heat to the resort’s buildings.    


Fields said the facility is also part of Snowbird’s parent company Powdr’s “Play Forever” initiative, which aims to reflect a long-term commitment to clean air and sustainable business practices.


“All of the Powdr resorts operate under the ‘Play Forever’ model and every decision we make as a ski resort goes through the prism of Play Forever and what impact do our decisions make on the planet, on air quality, and so forth?” he said. 


The Snowbird Power Systems facility is currently in its testing phase, and is expected to be fully operational by winter 2021. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on July 9th.


KPCW news reports on climate change issues are brought to you by the Park City Climate Fund at the Park City Community Foundation, an initiative that engages Park City in implementing local, high-impact climate solutions that have potential to be effective in similar communities.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.