Snowy Ski Resort Gets 100 Percent of Power from Sun and Wind

Nestled in the snowy hills of Mt. Institute a new 500 kW solar farm is helping a ski resort make snow! The Massachusetts family-run business, Berkshire East, can now claim the rights to owning the first ski resort that runs on 100 percent on-site renewable energy.

About Berkshire East

Berkshire East is located on Mt. Institute in the small town of Charlemont, Massachusetts.  In the charming town of 1,266 residents, the ski resort hosts more than 100,000 skiers annually, and has six ski lifts and two lodges. The year-round resort also caters to thrill seekers in the warm summer months, offering one of the longest zip line canopy tours in the United States.

Solar and wind are combined to provide enough energy to power the entire ski resort.

In Tandem: Solar and Wind

The recently commissioned 500 kW solar farm was developed by Sustainable Energy Developments Inc. SED installed 90 dual-axis AllSun Trackers manufactured by AllEarth Renewables. The dual-
axis trackers combine GPS and wireless technology to position more than 2,000 solar panels towards the sun throughout the day. Each AllSun Tracker is paired with an SMA Sunny Boy 6000-US inverter for maximized energy production. Despite the harsh winter conditions, the solar farm is expected to produce 700,000 kWh annually.

The solar farm accompanies a 900 kW wind turbine that the company installed in 2011. The 277-foot tall wind turbine, manufactured by PowerWind, has 91 foot-long blades and can spin up to 27 rotations per minute. Together the solar and wind systems produce enough power to cover the resort’s high electricity demand for the entire year.

Berkshire East is open year round, offering zip line tours during the warm summer months.

Reducing Costs for the Future 

According to Berkshire East spokesperson, Jon Shaefer, “the largest non-labor expense for Berkshire East is energy.” When natural snow is unavailable, energy guzzling snow-making equipment is used to supplement it. Concerns over climate change and energy price increases are making many ski resorts look at renewables as an investment for the longevity of their businesses. Berkshire East has used renewable energy as a security for their future, guaranteeing skiers and snowboarders will be able to hit the slopes for many years to come.


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  1. Mark Gibson
    Mark Gibson says:

    Perhaps you would round out the article by explaining whether this company is doing net-metering or participating in a feed-in tariff, or whether they store their electricity for later use somehow (unlikely); in other words, are they producing as much electricity as they use (using the grid as their battery) or are they producing all of the energy they will use (storing it somehow). Also, much of their energy use will be gas or diesel for their snow machines and earth movers; how much energy is that compared to their electricity use? Thanks. This is good progress by the company and feels like incomplete reporting to make us feel good without thinking.

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