Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, USA, says it will be the first in North America to put an all new fully electrically powered trail groomer to work, smoothing its slopes.
Many ski resorts have switched to fully renewable electric power for their lifts, snowmaking and most other operations, some always have used green electricity, but switching vehicle fleets, particularly heavy users like groomers, has been difficult.
The machines manufacturers have been working to move from conventional diesel engines to versions that use bio-fuel, are electric-hybrid or even hydrogen fuelled to cut CO2 emissions and the technology is constantly advancing. All electric models have been trialled over the past few years, the main limit being how much grooming time can be delivered on a full charge compared to a conventional diesel machine. Again this has been constantly improving.
Taos Ski Valley say that their decision to deploy a fully electric PistenBully 100 E groomer from Kässbohrer is part of their aim to achieve net-zero by 2030. The purchase is the latest in a series of major investments Taos has made to significantly reduce grooming and snowmaking emissions, in addition to a variety of other energy-saving investments.
Grooming is a major operational effort for any ski resort, with machines known variously as snowcats, groomers or in the UK piste bashers, deploying every day before and throughout the entire ski season to prepare the slopes for skiers and riders.
Taos has already invested in high-efficiency snowmaking and grooming equipment that use significantly less energy, and now with the new fully electric snowcat, the resort is further demonstrating its commitment to sustainability and its B Corp promise to use business as a force for good.
“Our mantra is to be better, not bigger, and this investment exemplifies that,” said David Norden, CEO of Taos Ski Valley. ” Achieving net-zero carbon emissions is the right thing to do for our community, our local environment, and the entire outdoor recreation industry, which is on the frontline of the climate crisis. We’re grateful to the teams at PistenBully and Kässbohrer All-Terrain Vehicles that partnered with us and worked to help us secure this new snowcat.”
The PistonBully 100 E uses a 126kwh battery and can operate for four hours per charge. Taos plans to install specialty charging stations for it in strategic locations throughout the mountain, and the resort has also installed 20 EV charging stations for guests and the local community to use. Taos secures its electricity through the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, so the daytime electricity used at the EV charging stations is generated through solar arrays, furthering the resort’s net-zero commitment. Kit Carson Electric will be 100% daytime solar in June 2022.
“Whether it’s snowcats, food composters that significantly reduce food waste and the associated methane gas, LEED-certification of our award-winning hotel, or our unwavering commitment to forest and stream health, we refuse to cut corners in environmental sustainability,” continued Norden.
The new PistonBully 100 E is expected to be delivered to Taos in Q1 2023 and will be deployed on the mountain during the Winter 23 ski season.