Vail Resorts, 25th in the nation, tops list of state’s renewable-energy credit buyers

Colorado-based ski industry leader Vail Resorts is the state’s top purchaser of renewable-energy credits (RECs), according to a recent report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the company ranks 25th in the nation.

In 2006, the Broomfield-based ski, hotel, retail and real estate company began purchasing enough wind credits to account for 100 percent of the electricity consumed at its ski areas and other properties in Colorado, California and Wyoming.

Computer-processor manufacturer Intel Corporation topped the list with 46 percent of its total consumption covered by REC purchases, or 1.3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power (defined by the EPA as electricity generated from renewable sources such wind, solar, biomass or small-scale hydro). By comparison, Vail Resorts’ total consumption amounts to about 151.3 million kWh.

The EPA itself comes in at 14th on the list with 285 million kWh of REC purchases, or 100 percent of its consumption. Vail ranks behind heavy-hitters like Pepsi (2nd), the U.S. Air Force (8th) and Starbucks (18th), but ahead of retail giants like Staples (27th), Lowe’s (32nd) and Safeway (36th).

REC purchases aren’t embraced by all renewable energy advocates. Some say RECs allows companies to wantonly consume energy and buy offsets from the overall grid without directly contributing to renewable generation.

However, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz this past season engaged in an effort to reduce the company’s overall energy consumption by 10 percent through a variety of efficiency initiatives. And the company has been researching and implementing a variety of renewable energy projects, from small-scale hydro using local streams to solar panels on ski-area buildings to biomass projects.

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