The rise in energy prices is causing ski resorts to fear the worst. Faced with uncertainty as costs may not fall in the short term, resorts are asking the government to validate the European proposal that provides a cap of 180 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) and asks that the resorts are included in the criteria for awarding aid set up by French authorities for energy-consuming companies.
To avoid power cuts, the stations have been asked to reduce their consumption by 5% during peak hours and by 10% overall until March 31st, 2023. Resorts will reduce the speed of ski lifts and lower the temperature in their buildings. They are expected to increase ski pass prices by 3% to 6% this winter due to inflation and the energy crisis.
France has nearly 300 ski resorts spread over 6 massifs. According to Domaines skiables de France (DSF), more than 120,000 jobs depend on the opening of ski areas (shops, accommodation, ski schools, resort services, etc.). Last winter, the resorts welcomed nearly 10 million tourists, 7 million of whom practiced winter sports.
“We are unable to sign a new contract with EDF in view of the proposals made to us. The electricity bill would represent between 20% and 25% of our turnover, against 5% currently”, denounced on France 3 Sébastien Giraud, the general manager of the Villard-de-Lans (Isère) ski lift company. If ski lift and gondola operators are forced to close, the whole mountainside ecosystem would be affected, including ski schools, restaurants and hotels.
We won’t be able to pay the bills. As things stand, we won’t be able to open.Sébastien Giraud, general manager of the Villard-de-Lans
Resorts will be required to run their chairlifts but are fearing the costs. Many are already dreading having to pay very high bills. Those whose electricity supply contract is still in effect will suffer less. The stations with a contract expireing on January 31st, must sign quickly. Otherwise, prices could increase sharply. “Chairlifts are considered a means of transportation, just like buses or subways. The managers of ski lifts have public service delegations. They are therefore obliged to open,” says Anne Marty, deputy general manager of Altiservice and president of DSF.
Altiservice manages the stations of Saint-Lary and Font-Romeu in the Pyrenees. In the worst case scenario, the bill would rise from 2 million to 15 million euros. They would go from a net profit of 4.5 million euros to a loss of 2 million euros, which would not be sustainable.
Denouncing the sudden rise in electricity prices and fearing an economic shock, DSF has asked the State that ski lift companies be able to benefit from the support scheme for energy-intensive companies in the same way as all other French industries.
“The priority is to adopt a sobriety plan to reduce our consumption as much as possible,” said Alexandre Maullin, President of DSF. “With some smart changes, we can all achieve a 10% decrease.”
Serre Chevalier, in the Hautes-Alpes region, is the first ski area in the world to produce its own electricity using three clean energy sources, reports Euronews. Hydroelectricity, solar panels and small wind turbines deliver 30% of its total consumption. It powers ski lifts, machine rooms and snow-making systems. According to Serre Chevalier, 95% of greenhouse gas emissions in ski areas are produced by snow grooming machines.
As for the increase in ski pass prices, it seems inevitable. Part of the extra cost will inevitably be passed on to the end customer, said DSF, specifying that discussions on this subject must be held with the local authorities.
In Switzerland, a reduction in energy consumption of 20% is on the table this winter, Lobenews reported. Laurent Vaucher of Verbier’s lift company, Téléverbier, announced that all Swiss ski lift operators and snow production combined account for just 0.34% of the country’s total energy consumption.
In Italy the situation is no different. “Energy costs have increased by up to 300 percent, so no company can run its lifts without making ski passes more expensive,” said Diego Clara, spokesman for the Dolomiti Superski area. “Housing is becoming more expensive as hotels and apartments pay much more for heating and lighting.”