PCMR wants to install wind turbine high on the mountain | ParkRecord.com

PCMR wants to install wind turbine high on the mountain

Park City Mountain Resort, already feted for its environmental programs, wants to build a power-generating wind turbine and solar array in the resort’s upper reaches, a project that PCMR officials see as another step in their efforts to reduce emissions.

The Park City Planning Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to hold a hearing and possibly cast a vote on the wind turbine and solar array. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Park City Council chambers at the Marsac Building.

The resort wants to build the wind turbine and solar array close to the top terminal of the Silverlode lift, at an elevation of 9,244 feet, according to Brent Giles, who directs the resort’s operations and is the director of environmental affairs for parent company Powdr Corp. The location offers windy conditions and exposure to the sun, Giles said.

The turbine would be what is known as a vertical-axis model, with its blades in a cylindrical shape. It would not resemble the more commonly known wind turbines that appear as if they are high-tech windmills. Giles said the one PCMR wants to install would be approximately 38 feet tall. The solar array, meanwhile, would have approximately 400 square feet of panels.

Giles said PCMR wants to put a small kiosk at the location as well explaining the environmental benefits of the turbine and array to skiers and snowboarders.

"People will see that, look at what it’s doing, and think I can do that at my home," Giles said.

He said PCMR scouted locations within the resort for five years and spent three years measuring wind speeds before selecting the location.

If the Planning Commission approves the necessary permit, the resort intends to build the turbine and solar array this summer, with Giles anticipating that they will be operational by the end of the summer.

Kayla Sintz, the City Hall planner assigned to the application, issued a report recommending the Planning Commission approve the permit. The PCMR proposal has not been widely publicized. In her report, Sintz says the project is "in line with numerous components of the City’s environmental plan . . . "

Giles said the turbine and the solar array could annually generate between 20,000 and 30,000 kilowatt-hours of energy between them, the approximate amount of energy used by a 1,200-square-foot house over a three-year period. Giles acknowledged the energy the two could produce would account for a tiny percentage of the resort’s overall energy needs in a year.

PCMR and other mountain resorts see the prospects of rising global temperatures someday endangering the ski industry, with worries including diminishing amounts of snow at the lower elevations of resorts and midwinter rain instead of snow.

PCMR has been lauded for its wide-ranging environmental programs locally and nationally. The Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition, a Colorado-based group that issues environmental grades to Western resorts, awarded PCMR an ‘A’ grade late in 2010.

PCMR’s grade ranked second among the resorts that were researched, trailing only California’s Squaw Valley USA. Within the overall ranking, PCMR received an ‘A’ grade for its commitment to addressing global climate change. The use of renewable energy, a term used to describe cleaner-burning energies like wind power and solar power, is one of the categories the group researches.

Paul Joyce, the research director for what is dubbed the Ski Area Report Card, said he is not aware of another mountain resort pursuing an energy project as ambitious as the one proposed by PCMR. He anticipated the project will boost PCMR’s score in the next report card.

"We think it’s a great thing for them to be thinking about and creating their own energy," Joyce said.

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