Feet of powder, but no footprint
It’s a big week for Vail Resorts. The company has stoked the 2018-19 ski season excitement with several key announcements. Not only is its namesake ski resort, Vail Mountain, opening early for the first time in over a decade, but it’s also taken major steps in its epic ‘Commitment to Zero’ promise, which aims to dramatically reduce both its carbon and waste footprints by 2030.
On Tuesday, the company announced a long-term wind energy virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) to purchase the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 100 percent of its estimated FY 2019 North American operations by 2020. Additionally, the company announced a partnership with Eco-Products that will supply all of its North American restaurants with compostable and recycled-content items, and eliminate conventional single-use plastics, a process which will begin during the 2018-19 winter season.
“As a growing company, deeply connected to the outdoors, we made a commitment in 2017 to address our most pressing global and environmental challenges and protect our local communities and natural resources,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “We are thrilled to announce significant initiatives that will help us achieve our zero net emissions and zero waste to landfill goals.”
The Company’s VPPA enables the development of the Plum Creek Wind Project, which is expected to be completed in 2020. Under the 12-year agreement, Vail Resorts is purchasing 310,000 megawatt hours (MWh) annually – enough wind energy to reduce the emissions associated with the company’s estimated FY 2019 North American electricity use by 100%. That is also the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 30,000 average U.S. homes each year.
The agreement with Lincoln Clean Energy, a subsidiary of Ørsted and a leading developer of U.S. renewables, is the first of its kind to be executed by a Colorado-based company and will make Vail Resorts the first major company in the leisure and hospitality industry to achieve 100% renewable electricity with a VPPA. Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services served as a strategic advisor to Vail Resorts on the selection of the Plum Creek project.
“This agreement is just one of many ways Vail Resorts is working to be an industry leader in preserving the environment by bringing more renewable energy online,” said Katz. “While we continually work with local, state and federal governments and utility partners to find ways to source renewable energy in the markets where our individual resorts are located, this wind power purchase agreement allows us to make a measurable impact on climate change – and its effect on the planet – within just a few years.”
In its efforts to act locally, Vail Resorts recently signed a contract with Xcel Energy in Colorado to support a new solar energy facility, and is sponsoring Rocky Mountain Power’s request for proposal for 308,000 MWh of renewable energy, which could lead to a significant increase in the amount of solar, wind, and geothermal projects in Utah. Additionally, the company has invested $2.4 million in energy efficiency projects across its resorts over the last year, including low-energy snowmaking and energy-efficient building upgrades.
With its ‘Commitment to Zero’ sustainability goal—announced in 2017—Vail Resorts aims to achieve both net zero emissions and zero waste-to-landfill by 2030.
“We are on a journey to re-imagine what it means to be a leader in sustainability by focusing on what’s right for our communities, our mountains and our future,” said Katz. “To succeed, we must rely on our individual and collective participation to ignite a passion for the great outdoors and strong communities for generations to come.”
This week’s sustainability announcements are a part of the company’s 2018 inaugural EpicPromise Progress Report, an effort to transparently report annually on progress towards its ‘Commitment to Zero’ goals, as well as its employee and community giving initiatives. More information about the programs outlined in the report can be found at www.epicpromise.com.
Read the full release here.