CHARLEMONT, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Monday, February 7, at 10:30 a.m. Berkshire East Ski Area and the Schaefer family hosted an event to mark the commissioning of the PowerWind56, the resort’s new 900kW wind turbine. National, state and local dignitaries – including Judith Canales, Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Programs at the USDA's Rural Development Agency, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Executive Director Patrick Cloney, and State Representative Gale Cariddi, local dignitaries and special guests gathered with the project team to celebrate the fact that the resort has become the first ski area in the world to satisfy more than 100% of its energy needs with its own onsite wind power generator.
By taking power production into their own hands, Berkshire East has stabilized their energy costs and dramatically reduced their carbon footprint. State and Federal Grants made the project possible, along with a loan offered by a local bank, Greenfield Savings Bank. The supportive assistance from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, provided a total of $440,000 in grants to the wind project. This money paid for the turbine's feasibility study, some design and as well as construction.
For over 35 years, under the skillful leadership of Roy Schaefer, Berkshire East has survived as a family owned resort. During this time nearly half of all ski areas in the United States have vanished, in large part due to rising energy costs. Three years ago Berkshire East faced a critical juncture as it came off a fixed-five year energy contract fuel prices were tripling. The future did not look bright; something had to be done to keep the business alive.
A second generation of family ownership, lead by brothers Jim Schaefer (senior partner at UBS and current head of their recently announced Alternative Energy Group) and Jon Schaefer (the resorts assistant General Manager), brought an infusion of new ideas. Their goal was not only to secure the resort’s future, but to develop in a clean and responsible way. The brothers began exploring alternative energy options and retained Ontario, NY-based Sustainable Energy Development (SED), a wind development company focusing on community wind projects, ideal for applications like Berkshire East.
After a comprehensive feasibility study and permitting process, SED determined that German-manufactured PowerWind56 was an ideal match. This project became PowerWind’s first turbine installation in the United States. “We hope to be the perfect model of how the PowerWind56 will satisfy the needs of community wind projects across the nation,” said Jon Schaefer.
A commitment to community
This wind turbine’s environmental benefits are substantial. “It will eliminate over 1,400 tons of the greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere every year – that’s the equivalent of driving a car 2 million less miles or planting 85,000 trees annually,” added Schaefer.
- The turbine will also bring new resources to local schools and community: An educational station will be installed at Hawlemont School to monitor the turbine’s production.
- A $2,500 yearly scholarship in the name of Elissa Anne Henderson will be created for a local student.
- A $20,000 preservation fund for local historical buildings, to be replenished during an annual fund raising event, held annually at Berkshire East Ski Area.
- Renewable Energy Credits will be donated to Hawlemont School to offset the school's yearly energy consumption.
“We are excited to share this state-of-the-art sustainable technology with the next generation of skiers and business owners,” said Jim Schaefer.
The wind turbine is only one of the recent initiatives that Berkshire East Ski Resort has implemented to remain competitive and viable in the recreation industry year round.
For more information about this event or about Berkshire East, please contact Christopher Loftus, Director of Marketing, at 1-413-339-6618.
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