A Place in the Sun - Ski Mag

As skiers, we pray for snow. And at Colorado’s Wolf Creek, they also pray for bluebird days—for good reason. The family-owned ski area has become the first in the world to convert to 100 percent renewable energy thanks to a new 25-acre solar farm.

“We were really excited about going solar,” says Rosanne Pitcher, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Wolf Creek and a member of the Pitcher family, which owns the resort. “It’s been great so far. It’s been very reliable for us, and we’ve had very consistent power. We hope that we’re a good model for other businesses that are interested in going this route.”

What’s surprising is not that a ski resort finally converted to 100 percent renewable energy—it’s that the first ski resort to do so is one of the few family-owned, community ski hills still standing in an era of acquisitions and buyouts. Wolf Creek Ski Area, outside the town of Pagosa Springs, is known for its abundant powder, minimal crowds, and 1,600 acres of skiable terrain—much of it advanced and expert glades, steeps, and hike-to bowls. What Wolf Creek doesn’t have is the deep pockets, environmental consultants, and political influence of a large corporation.

Read more: Wolf Creek Ski Area Open on Weekends

Yet the ski area has been ahead of the eight-ball for over a decade, purchasing its electricity with 100 percent wind offsets since 2006, running snowcats on biodegradable grapeseed oil, and constructing zero-discharge water-free restrooms. Now this new partnership between the Pitchers and the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, struck last fall, created a 25-acre solar farm, the Penitente Solar Project, located 50 miles from the ski area. This allows Wolf Creek to run entirely on solar during the day, and on wind at night.

“Ski resorts consume a ton of energy, there’s really no way around that,” says Pitcher. “And some resorts, like Wolf Creek, operate under a special use permit. We think we owe it to the public, and the environment, to do our part and keep our mountains available to everyone, now and in the future. We’re happy to be leaders in the industry. It’s what we all should be doing.”

Originally published in the November 2018 issue of SKI Magazine.

Related

Wolf Creek opening day

Wolf Creek Ski Area to Open this Weekend

As Mother Nature blankets Colorado after a big storm, the family owned ski area near Pagosa Springs is excited to announce they're opening this weekend.

Wolf Creek Colorado

Independents Day: Wolf Creek, Colo.

The southwestern ski area is known for deep snow, fun terrain, and making every visitor feel like family.

Vail-Mountain-web

Vail Pledges to Deliver an Epic Zero

The giant resort operator announced the launch of an ambitious plan to eliminate, or off-set, virtually all environmental impacts of its worldwide operations by 2030.

A-Basin Expansion

A-Basin Poised to Expand

USFS approves new lift, resort access to Beavers and Steep Gullies.

Breaking the Opening Day Banner at A-Basin

Arapahoe Basin to Open Friday

The Colorado ski resort will be the first resort in the nation to be running lifts seven days a week.

Timberline-web

Which Resorts Have Re-Opened?

The season is over for most of the continent, but these resorts are spinning their lifts—with some very important regulations. Here’s the deal.

Aspen Highlands

A Brew with a View

It's not officially spring until you kick back outside with a cold one. We'll even throw in the scenery for free.

Blue the Vanlife van

4 Colorado Ski Areas on the #VanLife Bandwagon

Trade powder panic and I-70 traffic for easy early morning access at these four Colorado ski areas.