The Future of Snowbird Power

Image: GSBS Architects

Author: Lindsey

Published Date: 12/18/2019

Read Time: 3 Minutes

The Co-Gen plant is getting an upgrade! Find out What a Co-Gen plant is and how it benefits Snowbird.

Snowbird has big energy news – after 33 years of service, the Co-Gen plant at The Cliff Lodge is getting an upgrade. The new Co-Gen plant can produce 70-95% of Snowbird’s electrical needs throughout the resort which will reduce our dependency on the electric grid.

Snowbird Cogen Renderings

If you're like me, you might be wondering; What exactly is a Co-Gen plant? I can tell you that I am no expert on the matter (I didn't exactly grow up with an enthusiasm for engineering). But, I know a few people that have the inside scoop on the project and its benefits for Snowbird and the environment of the mountain that we all love. 

“Taking steps towards sustainability are not only important for the ski industry but are crucial for success in the climate action movement.”-Hilary Arens, Director of Sustainability

Snowbird Cogen Plant Upgrades

So, what is a Co-Gen plant? 

A Co-Gen plant (or Cogeneration) uses combined heat and power (CHP) to simultaneously produce electricity and heat from a single fuel source. This differs from a conventional power plant where fossil fuels are burned to release heat that ultimately creates electricity. The trouble with the conventional method is that the heat byproduct being released throughout the process is then wasted. A Co-Gen plant takes the heat byproduct created and repurposes it as a consumable product creating less waste and more useful energy. Essentially, a Co-Gen plant reuses the heat by-product instead of wasting it like a conventional power plant. 

If you have to re-read that again for it to make sense, no judgment. It took me a few times too. 


Utah ski resort cogeneration plant

"Climate in Utah is changing rapidly.  We need to take deliberate action now."  — Dave Fields, President, and General Manager

While in 1987 the current Co-Gen plant at Snowbird was considered a world-renowned engineering feat, it does not support all of Snowbird’s power needs. The goal of the new facility is to lower Snowbird’s dependency on the electric grid, prevent catastrophic power failures and better control costs for electric and heating needs. Meaning, that we will be almost entirely energy independent, more efficient and coal-free. With the new plant, Snowbird will produce 270% more power while reducing Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) emissions by 80%. 

Aligned with Snowbird's Play Forever sustainability goals, solar panels are planned to be installed on the roof. The Co-Gen plant groundbreaking took place in the fall of 2019 and is anticipated to be fully operational by December 2020. Once the project is complete, the Co-Gen plant will not only be heating The Cliff Lodge but will also be powering your Tram laps.  


About the Author

Once an aspiring prima ballerina, Lindsey Steed retired her pointe shoes to pursue a "normal" lifestyle including shredding the Bird. She now utilizes her creativity and discipline as a marketing professional, freelance writer and proofreader extraordinaire. You can often find her at a hot yoga studio, baking sourdough bread or cuddling her dog Johnny Cash.

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