Recession hit ski resort supported by wind power

Can it take a full working day to change a light bulb? Yes, if it means to climb 280 steps to reach the bulb.

HANCOCK, Massachusetts

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Massachusetts has a new attraction. The Zephyr wind turbine. And the light bulb housed within the Zephyr isn't just a regular light bulb. It is part of an inside an air-traffic warning light which is located 253 feet high upon a wind turbine. The Jiminy Peak ski resort, in Hancock, Massachusetts, is proud to be able to class themselves as the first in North America featuring such a structure. Years of struggle with huge costs for making the necessary snow brought the idea to build the turbine to CEO Brian Fairbank.

The wind blows most in the winter and that is when you use up the most energy. ‘Why don’t you take advantage of the wind’ a close friend suggested to Fairbank. Easier said than done. From the idea of conception, it took more than three years to complete. Before an order for the turbine could be placed, Federal Aviation Administration regulations had to be studied as well as the structure’s effect on local air traffic and birds and endangered species. Finally, the preparation work was done and the first task was to get 500 tons of turbine parts and equipment up to the mountain top via a two mile long basic gravel road.

‘Transportation of the parts and equipment was a huge challenge but once everything was on top of the mountain, assembling was just a question of two days’ Fairbank says. The $4 million project was completed in autumn 2007. As mentioned before, the turbine was named Zephyr, after the Greek god of the west wind. The 386-foot green machine has a tower that is more than 260 feet tall including the hub and the rotor blades extend an impressive 123 feet..The Zephyr now works like a dream and is capable of  producing roughly third of Jiminy Peak's electric needs, driving down a massive $450,000 a year from the resort's energy bill. In perspective, the energy coming from the Zephyr is enough to power more than 600 average sized homes.

The best part of the Zephyr's power is that it has also drawn the interest of many visitors generating unexpected, additional income. What else can one expect from a simple idea brought forward from a friend? "When you read about what it's able to do for the resort, that it can take up to 33 percent off of their bills, then you realize that there is more of a need for this," Pinho said. "With what's going on right now, we have to have some alternatives to our energy sources that we have available to us."

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