Energy-Efficient Snow Guns Reduce Costs at Heavenly Mountain Resort

By: Pat Hambright Email
By: Pat Hambright Email
Heavenly Mountain Resort, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, is cutting costs for producing machine-made snow with new energy-efficient snow “guns” that combine cool water with compressed air to produce snow.

Photo courtesy of NV Energy

LAKE TAHOE, CA - Heavenly Mountain Resort, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, is cutting costs for producing machine-made snow with new energy-efficient snow “guns” that combine cool water with compressed air to produce snow.

According to a press release from NV Energy, a total of 10 Viking V2 snow guns were installed this summer along the ski resort’s Lower Stagecoach ski run on the Nevada side of the mountain. The new equipment is expected to reduce the resort’s average annual snowmaking energy use by approximately 378,000 kilowatt hours compared to older model snow guns. According to NV Energy officials, the savings represents enough energy to power 42 homes in northern Nevada for a year, and it represents an annual reduction of 283 tons of carbon emissions.

Because the new equipment was installed through NV Energy’s Sure Bet energy efficiency program for new construction, Heavenly is receiving a $29,913 rebate from the program to offset project costs.

Heavenly has the largest snowmaking system on the West Coast and one of the largest in the world. Although the resort receives an average of 360 inches of snowfall annually, snowmaking crews can produce enough machine-made snow to cover 65 percent of the skiable terrain.

Heavenly Mountain Resort, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, is cutting costs for producing machine-made snow with new energy efficient snow “guns” that combine cool water with compressed air to produce snow.

A total of 10 Viking V2 snow guns were installed this summer along the ski resort’s Lower Stagecoach ski run on the Nevada side of the mountain. The new equipment is expected to reduce the resort’s average annual snowmaking energy use by approximately 378,000 kilowatt hours compared to older model snow guns. According to NV Energy officials, the savings represents enough energy to power 42 homes in northern Nevada for a year, and it represents an annual reduction of 283 tons of carbon emissions.

“Heavenly will continue to look at all technologies available to further reduce energy consumption in all of our mountain operations,” said Barrett Burghard, Heavenly’s senior snow surfaces manager. “This project aligns well with the overarching Vail Resorts future goal of continuing to reduce our energy.”

“Vail Resorts has reduced its overall energy use by 10 percent in the last three years, and as part of the Next Ten energy reduction campaign will be looking to achieve another 10 percent by the year 2020. This will be accomplished through capital improvements and upgrades to lifts, snowmaking, facilities, and vehicle fleets,” said Frank Papandrea, environmental manager for Heavenly.

NV Energy’s Sure Bet program offers cash incentives and technical assistance to NV Energy’s commercial electric and natural gas customers to help improve energy efficiency, cut operating costs and save money on energy bills.


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