Slower ski lifts, less artificial snow: French resorts tackle energy crisis | France

Managers of ski resorts in the French Alps are scrambling to find ways to conserve energy as part of a national effort to reduce consumption, with about half of the resorts also preparing for energy bills to be three to six times higher than in previous years.

In Chamonix, near Switzerland, if there is no crowd, the elevator will be 10% slower. And if the resort receives an alert that the power supply can’t meet demand, Chamonix will slow down the elevators by 30%.

A number of ski resorts, including Chamonix and Val Thorens, have also pledged to reduce artificial snow production and reduce indoor heating, officials said.

In Val Thorens, maintenance and restaurant staff will have a turnaround time of about 10 minutes – instead of an hour – to be taken to their workplace before the slopes open.

These measures “will be invisible and painless for our customers. The aim is to ensure that our customers do not feel the impact of the power outage,” said Benjamin Blanc, manager at Les 3 Vallees, which includes Val Thorens.

Half of France’s ski resorts have had to renegotiate their long-term electricity contracts this year amid record inflation, said Alexandre Moulin, who heads the Federation of Ski Resorts in France, and was expecting an annual bill that could increase three to sixfold in 2023. .

For example, the energy bill for ski resorts run by Maulin in the Sybelles area, in Savoie, should reach €1.6m (£1.4m) next year, up from €400,000 in 2020.

He added that higher ticket prices will increase by about 5% but will not cover all the higher operating costs.

Val Thorens managed to secure a contract with the EDF utility before the energy crisis for most part of 2023. But now it needs to find a solution for the upcoming ski season.

“We are mountain people,” said Jérôme Grillet, president of Cetam, the ski lift operator in Val Thorens. “Our motto is that we always get out of tough situations, and that will be the case this time again, because we will adapt.”

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