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Cow manure to power Killington K-1 gondola

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  October 18, 2012 10:38 AM

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k1.jpg

Arizona Snowball made headlines in September when it announced plans to make artificial snow this season 100 percent from sewage, which sounds gross, but is reportedly very clean, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Well, while no Northeast resorts will employing the same tactics, waste will be a factor in how one local resort plans to power its gondola this season.

Killington Mountain Resort announced Thursday that the K-1 will be fueled by methane gas from cow manure, a process called "Cow Power." According to a release, the process goes like this:

"Farms collect cow manure throughout the day, mixing it with wash water from the milking equipment which is then pumped into an anaerobic digester. The slurry flows through a digester for about three weeks at 100 degrees Fahrenheit allowing bacteria to convert the manure into biogas, about 60 percent methane gas and 40 percent carbon dioxide. The biogas is then delivered to a modified natural gas engine, which drives an electric generator to create electricity."

Thirteen Vermont farms, with roughly 10,000 total dairy cows producing 300,000 gallons of manure per day, participate in the program, in which the farms are compensated for their efforts.

"Large customers like Killington Resort with significant demand can make important contributions to the continued development of this innovative renewable resource," Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power said. "Through their investment, they will help us continue to expand the GMP Cow Power program making this opportunity available to more Vermont dairy farms. These farms are the backbone of Vermont's agricultural economy; therefore Killington is to be commended for its commitment to both renewable energy and Vermont farming."

Killington Mountain Resort Photo

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Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.

Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.

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