Snowmass looks at upgrade to Carriage Way snowmelt system
After finding that its snowmelt system on Carriage Way accounts for more than two-thirds of its utility spending, the town of Snowmass Village is considering upgrading it to save energy and costs.
The town has been monitoring the energy consumption of its primary buildings and facilities and seeking an area where it could work on its efficiency. The snowmelt system, which keeps the town’s primary access road to the ski area clear during the winter, was found to be a major area for improvement, the Town Council learned on May 18.
Nick Kertz, the town’s facilities maintenance superintendent, developed a way for the public works department to remotely access the snowmelt system. That meant for the first winter in its history, the system could be shut off when it didn’t need to be on, amounting to a 30-percent saving in electricity usage and more than that in gas, the more expensive form of energy needed to make it run, Kertz said.
“Having an impact there has a major impact not only on our carbon footprint but also our expenditures,” Kertz said.
But the team is suggesting further improvements that would make the system more efficient, including to the controls, which Kertz said are less sophisticated than those of a snowmelt system for a residential driveway. Right now, public works staff members are the predictive controls, he said.
At an estimated cost of over $1.6 million, though, the improvements are pricey. Public Works Director Anne Martens suggested conducting some public outreach before pursuing the project. More financial analysis needs to be done, too, she said, although with an estimated annual savings of $170,000, the project will likely pay itself off in about 10 years.
The public works department would like to complete the analysis before the annual budget process this fall.
“The 1.6 million is a lot of money,” said Town Manager Clint Kinney. “We’re trying to find ways to do it efficiently and effectively.”
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Construction in Snowmass this summer will come with some lane and parking lot closures. Plus, Town Council appoints representatives to local boards and commissions.