Berkshire East, in Charlemont, MA, is the world’s first ski area to be powered entirely by on-site renewables. With concerns over climate change and the high costs associated with their snow-making equipment, the year-round resort wanted to use renewable energy to help improve their energy security, guaranteeing that the 100,000 skiers and snowboarders they host annually would be able to hit the slopes for many years to come. According to Berkshire East spokesperson John Schaefer, the “largest non-labor expense” for Berkshire East is energy.
The project was designed and installed by local dealer Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. (SED),and used 90 dual-axis AllEarth Solar Trackers. These trackers can withstand harsh winter climates and have superior snow-shedding abilities--important factors for Berkshire East, located on a mountaintop. Trackers are equipped with automatic high wind, cold temperature, and snow settings, and are rated at up to 120mph wind speeds, making them ideal for a mountain installation.
Berkshire East’s 500 kW solar tracker farm produces approximately 700,000 kWh annually, in spite of harsh winter conditions. The solar farm joins a 900kW wind turbine the company installed in 2011. Together, the two systems will cover the ski area’s entire annual electric demand.
Berkshire East Ski Area is a great example of how distributed energy products like wind and solar can help small, family-owned businesses thrive for years to come Installing wind and solar projects at ski areas and resorts throughought the Northeast simply makes sense.