The most ambitious upgrade to snowmaking in the history of the ski business in Vermont is in place at all 15 major resorts in the state, giving owners and managers a new measure of confidence that the 2014-15 season will be the third in a row with near record numbers of skier visits.
Vermont saw about 4.5 million skier visits in each of the past two years, putting the state third in the nation in terms of the size of its ski industry, behind only Colorado and California, said Parker Riehle, president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association.
“We’re off to a really fast, strong start again this year,” Riehle said. “We couldn’t be happier about having another record opening. Coming into Thanksgiving weekend, nine alpine areas were open and at least three Nordic areas were open.”
The total investment in new, energy-efficient snow guns among the 15 resorts was $15 million, with $5 million of that expenditure being picked up by Efficiency Vermont, which negotiated with major snow gun manufacturers to offer bulk pricing to Vermont’s resorts.
“We were able to work with the manufacturers from the beginning to cue them into the fact that very large orders would be coming in from Vermont,” said Kelly Lucci, spokesperson for Efficiency Vermont. “Our goal was to get as many of those old energy hog snow guns off the mountain as possible. We think we got over 90 percent, the vast majority.”
Parker Riehle confirmed that 1,800 old, less efficient snow guns were replaced by 2,300 new high efficiency guns across Vermont’s resorts. Riehle said 80 percent of the skiable terrain in the state — more than 4,500 acres — is now covered by snowmaking