The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

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Give thanks to cows, too

KILLINGTON-At a time when power outages have become an increasing concern and climate change presents new challenges to an industry centered on cold weather, the focus on renewable energy is more important than ever.  In recognition of both the seriousness of the challenge and their own commitment to doing their part, Killington Resort is hosting a rather unique and fun event this weekend.

The area is celebrating its newest K-1 Gondola cabin design and its support of Vermont farms and renewable energy sources with a unique Cow Power event on Saturday, Nov. 24.  

The festivities will feature the debut of the second gondola cabin to display cow-power artwork. Having the cabin on display will help call attention to the importance of energy innovation, and Killington's support of Vermont farms, noted Killington spokesperson Sarah Thorson

Dave Dunn of Green Mountain Power (GMP) will also be in attendance. Dunn works in GMP's Energy Innovation Center and will have a tent with a display set up on the Cow Power program. He will be happy to explain how the program and system works. (This could be a great learning experience for a child, or an interest generator for a school science project.)

There will be live music and food samples from Cabot Creamery. A calf, or two, from Blue Spruce Farm of Middlebury will be visiting and stationed by the by K-1. The farm is one of 13 farms participating in the Cow Power program, Thorson noted.

The participating farms have about 10,000 dairy cows, which produce 300,000 gallons of manure per day. By participating in the GMP Cow Power program, the farms are compensated for their contribution to the electric generation and the related environmental benefits. The energy is used locally and the program continues to grow annually with new farms and new customers joining regularly.

Green Mountain Power's Cow Power program allows customers to purchase electricity at a premium price. This in turn supports the conversion of methane gas, produced from the manure of those 10,000 cows, into a biogas that then drives a generator to create electricity. The compensation farmers receive supports their farms while they contribute to the development of renewable energy sources.

4--Cow -power -gondola --by -karen -Lorentz --IMG_3005

Photo by Karen D. Lorentz
This "Cow Power" cabin already being used on the K-1 Gondola will be joined by a second cabin sporting a new cow-power design that entirely envelops the cabin, including the windows (similar to the hot tub car).

In this case Killington has elected to "cow power" the popular K-1 Gondola with the more expensive electricity "to Moo've guests to the peak," Thorson stated.

"GMP Cow Power is truly an innovative way to create renewable energy, and it's another example of how we continue to implement environmental initiatives throughout our resort, "Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington-Pico, commented.
Over the past several years, Killington has implemented many environmental initiatives to reduce the resort's overall carbon footprint, including snowmaking efficiency upgrades with hundreds of low-e snowguns added to the snowmaking arsenal, a recycling program throughout all facilities, a "free-aire" refrigeration system, and an environmental assessment for further energy conservation.

The Cow Power program is an added effort to combat climate change and the Saturday celebration will be a fun way to both inform the public and debut the new cabin design, Thorson added.