Killington harnessing power of cows, the sun in renewable energy efforts

Cows are now powering one of New England's most popular ski resorts.

The green mountains of Vermont, dressed in winter white, are home to Killington Resort, where hundreds of thousands of skiers visit each season. Now, the resort is making renewable energy a priority and it all starts, not at a mountain, but on the farm.

"We ski in the environment, so it's pretty important for us to take care of it," said Killington resident Paul Holmes.

Cows are powering the gondola ride up the mountain and even the Peak Lodge and restaurant at the end of the rides.

Killington partners with Green Mountain Power and local dairy farmers to convert methane gas from cow manure into electricity.

"It's the right things to do. We're supporting local farmers by doing it. From a sustainability standpoint, it makes a lot of sense for us to do this," said Rob Megnin, director of marketing and sales & reservations.

Not only is Killington harnessing the power of the cow, they're also harnessing the power of the sun.

New this season, the resort added 14 solar trackers. They use GPS technology to follow the sun throughout the day, allowing up to 45 percent more energy production compared to a fixed solar panel system.

Combined, solar energy at Killington will produce the energy equivalent of powering 370 homes for an entire year.

Killington is also adding 163 new low energy snow guns, using the natural winter air to refrigerate their cooling systems and has zero sort recycling.

"Essentially everything that you see, the paper plates, plastic ware, cups, straws, everything is recyclable," said Megnin.

Even the snow cats are using plant-based hydraulic fluids.

The hope is, by being a leader in green initiatives, others will follow suit.

As for other ski resorts, Stratton, Sugarbush and Jiminy Peak have also joined the climate challenge and Mount Snow's snow gun fleet is now 100 percent low energy as of the 2014/2015 season.