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Massachusetts ski-resort now wind-powered

In August, at the height of the hot summer season, over 200 people paid $6 each to ride up a chairlift at a western Massachusetts ski area to see a rare sight in this area of the country. At the top of the barren slopes of the Jiminy Peak ski resort, blades were being hoisted to the top of a GE 1.5 MW wind turbine. Now producing power for the ski area, the turbine is the largest one both installed and owned by a ski area, according to the resort. Its energy demand for operations -- particularly a high reliance on equipment for making artificial snow -- has becoming and increasing burden because of the region's high and rising energy prices. Jiminy Peak managers realised they could turn the peak's high winds to their advantage by installing a wind turbine. Sustainable Energy Developments Inc of Ontario, Canada, worked with the resort to bring the idea to fruition. The State of Massachusetts also helped through a $586,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a quasi-state agency that promotes renewable energy throughout the state. The resort's Katie Fogel says it expects to use all the turbine's power during full winter operations and to sell power back to the grid during the quieter off-season. Fogel says the resort is not worried about any negative reacton to the turbine from resort visitors, but is anxious about making sure the local town of Hancock is comfortable with the prospect. After a broad outreach effort, she says, "We've gotten nothing but positive feedback."

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