Arapahoe Basin Ski Area hits sustainability milestone as it strives to become carbon neutral by 2025

A skier navigates fresh powder at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Saturday, April 22, 2023. A-Basin recently announced that it is now powered by 100% renewable energy as of October 2023.
Ian Zenner/Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area has just reached a huge milestone. After publicly pledging in 2018 to be carbon neutral by 2025, A-Basin says it is now two-thirds of the way towards achieving its goal.

“Starting in October, we will be getting 100% of the electricity we use to power the ski area from renewable sources,” said Mike Nathan, director of sustainability.

A-Basin receives any power it doesn’t generate itself — such as power from solar panels — from Xcel, whose grid is powered by a mix of fossil fuel-generated power and renewable energy. To reach the 100% renewable energy mark, A-Basin has participated in specific renewable energy programs offered by Xcel that result in more expensive energy bills than regular customers.

Anyone fully enrolled in these high-cost programs is powering their operations on 100% renewable energy because they pay a premium associated with producing renewable energy in Colorado, according to Xcel.

So, while the electricity arriving at the ski area is the same energy that is supplied to the rest of the community through Xcel’s power lines, A-Basin has taken additional steps to invest in renewable energy for all of its electricity use.

“We use electricity to run almost all operations on the mountain,” Nathan said. “Obviously some vehicles are still fuel-based. Snowcats are diesel. We have shuttle buses and some other vehicles that use gasoline, but almost all of our fixed assets like chair lifts, buildings, snowmaking equipment, water and wastewater treatment, electric vehicle chargers, all of these “Things run — if not entirely on electricity, then 80% to 90% on electricity.”

Nathan said A-Basin’s sustainability team saw how much the ski area relied on electricity for its daily operations and realized there was a way for the ski area to mitigate its carbon emissions by nearly 70% if it switched to renewable electricity options.

“This is the bulk of our carbon emissions,” Nathan said. By addressing this problem with 100% renewable electricity, we are two-thirds of the way, if not more, to reaching our goal.

By partnering with Xcel Energy and several other community partners, A-Basin now obtains renewable electricity from three main buckets.

A-Basin receives the bulk of its renewable energy (46.4%) from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Connect Flex program, which the ski area signed up for this year. The program sources renewable electricity generated by wind and solar from a mix of renewable electricity projects in Xcel Energy’s Colorado service area.

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Arapahoe Basin’s second-largest slice (33.6%) of the renewable energy pie comes from Xcel Energy’s Certified Renewable Energy Percentage, which is Xcel’s overall grid mix and includes Jack’s Solar Garden and on-site renewables at A-Basin. Jack’s Solar Garden in Longmont features agricultural techniques — the practice of using a solar garden’s footprint to grow produce and raise livestock under and around the solar panels themselves.

In terms of on-site renewables, A-Basin currently has over 30 kilowatts of solar PV, and is committed to adding solar panels to any possible construction project.

Jack’s Solar Garden contributes 7% of A-Basin’s renewable energy use while on-site renewables provide less than 1%.

The last significant portion of A-Basin’s renewable energy (20%) comes from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Connect program. A-Basin has been participating in the program since 2018 and derives power from a large solar farm on the eastern plains of Colorado.

“It provides us with about 20% of our needs and at that time (2018) it accounted for all the uses associated with snowmaking plus the Black Mountain Express lift,” Nathan said.

The announcement that A-Basin is now powered by 100% renewable energy shows the ski area is committed to its pledge, although efforts to mitigate the area’s carbon emissions are ongoing, according to Nathan.

“Something that we, as well as Summit County government and many other businesses in Summit County have on their radar, is something called electrification,” Nathan said. “It will basically move some of the other uses that normally come from fuel to electricity. Now that electricity is 100% renewable, if we can do more things with electricity, it means we have a smaller carbon footprint.”

Ultimately, A-Basin hopes that reaching the 100% renewable energy goal will prepare the ski area for future sustainability projects that will continue to protect the surrounding environment and the planet as a whole.

To learn more about A-Basin’s mission toward sustainability, visit

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