Through Children’s Eyes: Jiminy Peak Wind Turbine
By EcoFellow Jenny Goldberg
Last week, CET’s Outreach and Marketing Team trekked out to Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort with approximately 130 3rd and 4th grade students from various Berkshire County schools. Our purpose: to educate them about the importance of wind power using Jiminy Peak’s very own wind turbine to demonstrate!
Zephyr, or west wind, is the name of Jiminy Peak’s 1.5 MW, 386 foot tall wind turbine. It was a $3.9 million project that was completed in 2007. To learn about some of the amazing challenges that the construction crew faced while trying to transport this 250 ton structure up the mountain, check out the video below:
Zephyr produces approximately 4,600,000 kWh each year, or 1/3 of Jiminy Peak’s total electricity consumption! However, it is important to note that the wind turbine is only able to meet such a large portion of the resort’s demand because the owners had seriously invested in energy efficiency over a ten-year period prior to the turbine’s construction. These energy efficiency measures included installing high-efficiency appliances and light bulbs throughout the resort and cogeneration (capturing and utilizing excess heat generated during electricity production) during the snowmaking process. The result of these measures has been to reduce Jiminy Peak’s electricity consumption by over 2.3 million kWh every year!
During the tour last week, we were all impressed with the students’ knowledge of renewable energy and fossil fuels. As they explained that burning coal, oil, and gas is bad for the atmosphere because it creates carbon dioxide, I began to question who was giving the tour to whom!
After a brief introduction, we took chairlifts up the mountain (this was the first chairlift ride for many of the students) and then hiked to the top to view Zephyr up close. Students, teachers, and parents alike were shocked at how beautiful and quiet the turbine was – it was almost inaudible from several hundred feet away and very quiet even at the tower base. We then discussed some of the benefits of having a wind turbine on site, such as the fact that it provides cheap, clean, local energy and helps communities become more self-sustaining. The tour concluded with a conversation about the importance of protecting our environment and a reminder to the students that any one of them could be designing and constructing more wind turbines like Zephyr in the future!