This one-of-a-kind power system is propelling Snowbird through its deepest winter yet

Apr 5, 2023, 6:31 AM | Updated: 9:20 am

An undated image of the Snowbird Power Systems facility at Snowbird Resort. The resort is self-powe...

An undated image of the Snowbird Power Systems facility at Snowbird Resort. The resort is self-powered by the cogeneration facility, which recently won a national award for exemplary engineering. (Photo: Snowbird Resort)

(Photo: Snowbird Resort)

SALT LAKE CITY — Snowbird Resort on Tuesday officially broke its all-time record for total snowfall, surpassing the previous record of 783 inches. More snow has meant higher avalanche danger and more interlodge events — a time when avalanche danger is so high that ski areas shut down access to the slopes and order skiers to take shelter in buildings.

Luckily for Snowbird, and the thousands of skiers who make the often treacherous drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon to surf a seemingly endless supply of powder, the resort is self-powered by a cogeneration facility that recently won a national award for exemplary engineering.

Snowbird Power Systems, designed by Utah-based VBFA Engineering in 2021, is a 5.3-megawatt cogeneration system that’s 60% more efficient than Snowbird’s original cogeneration facility that started running in 1986. VBFA last week announced that its work designing the system earned a National Recognition Award for engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ 56th annual Engineering Excellence Awards.

The new system was long overdue.

“The old plant ran for nearly 300,000 hours (while its expected operational life was 120,000 hours), wrote Sara Sherman, communications manager for Snowbird Resort, in an email to “While it could have continued to run even longer, this upgrade was one of the strongest ways we improve our environmental footprint and align with our Play Forever goals.”

When it came time to upgrade the facility, VBFA president emeritus Kim Harris, who was part of the VBFA team that worked on Snowbird’s 1986 and 2021 cogeneration facilities, said there were some challenges in doing so.

“What was really difficult was (that) the original plant was designed as a steam system, and those engines no longer are manufactured by Caterpillar so they had to go to hot water,” Harris said. “They wanted to increase the (electrical generation) capacity, and there was not sufficient room in the existing building to put the new plant. And furthermore, they couldn’t just shut it down, tear it out and put in something new — that system had to continue to function electrically and thermally.”

Please read Logan Stefanich’s full story at

Also read: Interlodge order issued for Alta

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


For one of the first times this spring, the Logan River in Utah has entered flood stage. And it's t...

Adam Small

Utah’s Logan River hits flood stage, more storms expected

Utah's spring rainstorms helped the Logan River move into flood stage, along with the melting snowpack from a banner winter.

4 days ago

A view overlooking Guam's Tumon Bay on Tuesday as Typhoon Mawar closes in.Mandatory (Photo: Junior...

Elizabeth Wolfe and Rob Shackelford, CNN

Typhoon Mawar impacting Guam with heavy rain and damaging winds

In addition to the strongest winds, the northern third of Guam is also seeing the heaviest rainfall.

4 days ago

people walk in downtown salt lake as the sun shines down, temperature in utah may set records again...

Adam Small

Heat could reach record levels within five years, Utah could see more extremes

Last summer set heat records in Utah, and meteorologists say there's a 50% chance that we'll see extreme temperatures again.

10 days ago

Thunderstorms this weekend...

Aimee Cobabe

Thunderstorms coming to Utah, expected to last all weekend

Thunderstorms are expected to move into the Beehive State tomorrow and last all weekend long. None expected to be severe.

23 days ago

Brian Steed was named as the new Great Salt Lake commissioner by Gov. Spencer Cox on Monday, May 15...

Carter Williams,

Record snowpack likely adds 2 years to Great Salt Lake’s long-term outlook, experts say

When taking into account the typical summer loss, he projects that the lake will be about 4,192.5 feet to 4,193 feet by the end of the year, close to current levels.

23 days ago

The National Weather Service still has numerous flood warnings and other advisories in place across...

Lindsay Aerts

Utahns breath sigh of relief on major flood risk, for now

Some relief is here when it comes to flood risk with cooler temperatures expected over the next week. But Utah's rivers are certainly not out of the woods.

24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

This one-of-a-kind power system is propelling Snowbird through its deepest winter yet