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Wheeler Power Systems Designs and Installs Cat Co-Generation System for Snowbird

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Wheeler Power Systems, a Division of Wheeler Machinery Co., has commissioned a new 5.3 MW cogeneration system anchored by three Cat gas generator sets that provide power and heat for Snowbird, North America’s most accessible alpine destination and home to Utah’s iconic Aerial Tram. Scheduled to begin operating in June of 2021, the high-efficiency system illustrates Snowbird’s Play Forever commitment to sustainability while enabling the resort to independently address up to 100 percent of its power needs.

Housed in a new 8,700-square-foot building reinforced to withstand harsh winter conditions, Wheeler Power Systems designed and installed the new custom-designed cogeneration facility that features three synchronized and paralleled Cat gas generator sets, including two 2500-kW Cat G3520H units as well as a single 1515-kW Cat G3512H generator set. The system also includes new switchgear, high-efficiency boilers, heat exchangers, pumps, control valves, and electronic controls for balance of plant components.

The cogeneration facility is the latest in a series of major sustainability initiatives undertaken by Snowbird, which include ridesharing, mine reclamation, native species revegetation, watershed rehabilitation, electric vehicle charging stations, energy-efficient bulbs, composting, heater upgrades, glass recycling, and planting trees for season passes sold. The resort was recognized by Outside Online in its list of “America’s 10 Most Eco-Friendly Ski Resorts” in 2018.

“Here at Snowbird, we are committed to being responsible stewards of our outdoor spaces that bring us so much joy year-round,” said Snowbird President and General Manager Dave Fields. “Replacing our original cogeneration facility with a new plant that leverages the expertise and technologies from Caterpillar is a part of that commitment. This new cutting-edge system will not only enhance the safety and experience of our guests but also allow us to become more efficient with how we use energy at Snowbird.”

The integrated system provides electricity for key operations at the resort, including the Aerial Tram and chairlifts. It also powers guest spaces throughout the resort, including The Cliff Lodge, The Inn, The Lodge at Snowbird, and Iron Blosam Lodge, as well as the Snowbird Center and Creekside Café & Grill. In all, it can supply up to 90 percent of the resort’s energy requirements during the busy winter season and up to 100 percent of its energy needs in the summer.

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In addition to generating power, the cogeneration system recovers heat from the Cat engines’ exhaust gas, engine jacket cooling water, lube oil cooling water, and turbocharger cooling water to produce steam or hot water for operations at The Cliff Lodge, which includes over 500 hotel rooms, 80,000 square feet of meeting space, three restaurants, two heated swimming pools, four hot tubs, and a robust system of subsurface piping that melts snow and ice on walkways.

“Snowbird has set a high bar in the resort industry with a high-efficiency, state-of-the-art system with a minimal footprint that meets their aggressive sustainability goals, increases the resilience of their resort, and supports an expanded range of services for guests,” said Bryan Campbell, President of Wheeler Machinery Co. “This major infrastructure upgrade further enhances Snowbird’s reputation as a leader in environmental stewardship and advanced technology that delivers world-class luxury for its guests.”

The new cogeneration plant replaces a 1.9 MW system commissioned by Wheeler Power Systems in 1986 and powered by three Cat G399 gas generator sets. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week year-round, the generator sets logged more than 280,000 hours of service, far exceeding their expected operational lives of 120,000 hours.

“Our decades-long relationship with Snowbird illustrates the powerful combination of Caterpillar power solutions and the wide-ranging expertise of the Cat dealer network,” said Bart Myers, General Manager in Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division. “Caterpillar cogeneration technology supported by Wheeler Power Systems proved its value for Snowbird over the long haul, and we are poised to deliver the same superior level of performance with the new system.”

Snowbird also utilizes a Cat C15 500 kW standby generator set at the Summit Restaurant, Cat industrial engines at several ski lifts, and snow groomers with Cat engines. Additionally, the resort runs Cat wheel loaders, excavators, and a compact track loader for snow removal and site maintenance.

Cogeneration and Trigeneration Capabilities from Caterpillar
Facilities can reduce operating costs by implementing a Cat cogeneration combined heat and power (CHP) system or a trigeneration system incorporating cooling. This enables the units to simultaneously provide power for electrical loads as well as thermal energy for a facility’s heat and cooling requirements. Any Cat natural gas-fueled engine can be configured to support facility processes or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning requirements.

While the combination of grid power and traditional boilers for thermal energy offers less than 50 percent energy efficiency, CHP systems from Caterpillar can provide total energy efficiencies of up to 90 percent or more. This allows customers to save on energy spending, provide autonomy of supply, and reduce emissions.

Caterpillar delivers innovative power systems engineered for durability, reliability, and value. The company offers worldwide product support, with parts and services available globally through the Cat authorized service and dealer network. In addition, dealer technicians are trained to service every aspect of Cat equipment.

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