From its lifts and lodges to its snowmaking and "magic carpet,"
a new solar installation has helped the central Massachusetts
family run ski area, Berkshire East, become the world's first ski
area to be powered entirely from on-site renewables.
The year-round resort recently developed a 500kW solar tracker
farm that will produce 700,000kWh annually. The solar farm
will supplement a 900kW wind turbine the company installed in
2011. Together, the two systems will cover the area's entire
annual electric demand.
"We view on-site renewable as a hedge against the rising price
of power," said Jon Schaefer, 32, at Berkshire East. "Energy is our
largest non-labor expense and it's the one thing we are most
dependent on beyond the snow."
The recently commissioned 500kW solar farm consists of 90
dual-axis AllSun Trackers, which are manufactured in Vermont and
follow the sun throughout the day to boost energy production.
Berkshire East, in the small Berkshire's town of Charlemont,
Massachusetts, hosts over 100,000 skiers annually, has six lifts
and two lodges.
Sustainable Energy Development Inc. (SED) of Ontario, NY
developed the project. SED chose the solar trackers for the
project and managed the design and installation. The solar
trackers at the farm use GPS and wireless technology to position
the more than 2,000 solar panels directly into the sun throughout
the day, boosting production by up to 45 percent over rooftop
The solar farm is expected to produce 700,000 kWh annually and the
wind turbine produces 1.4 million kWh annually.
"We built our product to produce more energy from the sun each
day and withstand the harshest of northeastern climates. We were
particularly excited to be involved in this unique project and
thrilled to have AllSun Trackers helping power Berkshire East's
operations," said David Blittersdorf, CEO of AllEarth
"Berkshire East Ski Area is a prime example of how distributed
energy projects like wind and solar can help small, family-owned
businesses thrive for years to come. Installing wind and solar
projects at ski areas and resorts simply makes sense throughout the
northeast, they are prime locations to take advantage of the
benefits of renewable energy projects," said Kevin Schulte, CEO of
The AllSun Tracker is manufactured by AllEarth Renewables of
Williston, Vt. The ground-mounted solar systems are designed
for homes, businesses, non-profits, and commercial-scale
installations. The company is a 2012 Inc. 500 business for
fastest growing companies nation-wide and has installed over 1,400
complete grid-connected solar tracker systems.