Killington Resort, dubbed the Beast of the East, has announced today that they will power their K-1 Express Gondola in 2012/2013 using electricity generated directly from Vermont's dairy farms. In an attempt to create renewable energy, Killington has enrolled in Green Mountain Power's Cow Power program, allowing GMP customers to help support the new development of renewable cow power projects in the state of Vermont. 

“Killington Resort is thrilled to work with the GMP Cow Power program and local dairy farmers to power the K-1 Express Gondola starting opening day of the winter season,” stated Mike Solimano, President and General Manager for Killington Resort. “GMP Cow Power is truly an innovative way to create renewable energy and it’s another example of how we continue to implement environmental initiatives throughout our resort.”

This is what the GMP Cow Power process entails: Cow manure is collected by farmers throughout the day, mixed with wash water from milking equipment and then pumped into an anaerobic digester (used to break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen). After about three weeks sitting in the digester at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the mixture is converted into biogas, 60 percent methane and 40 percent carbon dioxide. The biogas can then be used in a modified natural gas engine, which utilizes an electric generator to create electricty. The energy is then delivered to the K-1 Gondola after being stocked into the GMP electrical system and voilà! Cow powered skiing and riding. 

What happens to the left over manure in the digester you ask? It is separated into solid and liquid portions, with the liquid used as an enhanced fertilizer and the solids replacing sawdust as bedding for the cows. Nothing goes to waste. 

“Large customers like Killington Resort with significant demand can make important contributions to the continued development of this innovative renewable resource,” said Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power. 

There are currently 13 Vermont farms, consisting of about 10,000 dairy cows that help to produce 300,000 gallons of manure per day, participating in the GMP Cow Power program. That's got to be one heck of a smell. The farms are compensated for their energy production, which is used locally. With new farms and customers joining regularly, the program should continue to grow and prosper, maybe more Vermont ski areas like Killington will get in on this innovative renewable energy source.