How to watch Teletubbie: Sun Mountain on March 23
In the summer of 2017, after an unseasonably hot summer, Sun Mountain Resort in the heart of the Manitoba desert became the first Canadian resort to launch its first ever solar-powered ski lift in the sun.
Sun Mountain, the largest resort in the province, had been in a long-term contract with Hydro One, the company which owns the Winnipeg Power Corp., to run the lift.
But the company’s contract was up in 2018, and Hydro One’s chief executive, Fred Czeglinski, announced in a press release that he was pulling the plug on the project, citing its “unacceptable” cost and schedule overruns.
Sun has since been shuttered, and the company has filed for bankruptcy.
“It’s the first time that a Canadian resort has ever had a solar-electric lift,” said Peter Johnson, the managing director of Sun Mountain and a former head of the Canadian Solar Energy Association.
But Sun Mountain has faced mounting criticism, with many complaining about the resort’s lack of a plan for transitioning its electricity supply to renewable energy.
“I think it was an awful mistake,” said Paul Leblanc, who is running for the Liberal Party of Canada as an independent candidate in the 2019 election.
“We didn’t have a plan.”
Leblanuc is the co-chair of the party’s energy plan.
“They should have had a plan.
They should have talked to everybody who was on board, not just one person.”
A spokesperson for Hydro One said the company is “committed to meeting the challenges of the climate change and energy transition,” and that the company was “working with Sun Mountain to move forward with the solar-lift project.”
“This project was the last piece of the puzzle to provide the Sun Mountain guests with an alternative energy source for summer season skiing, and we are grateful to Sun for its continued commitment to this program,” the spokesperson said.
“The solar lift project will continue to provide Sun Mountain with a reliable source of energy, and Sun Mountain will continue its long-standing commitment to providing energy reliability to our guests.”
Sun Mountain’s solar lift was the first ski lift to be powered by solar energy.
The Sun Mountain Solar Lift is an 18-metre-tall solar lift that lifts guests up onto a platform at the resort.
A Sun Mountain spokesperson said the lift was originally conceived as a test, but it has since become an annual fixture at the ski area.
“Sun Mountain’s new solar lift, which was unveiled in 2019, will be the largest solar lift in Canada,” said the spokesperson.
“Solar is the cheapest, cleanest and most environmentally friendly option available to our customers.”
A Sun spokesperson said it was a “significant milestone for Sun Mountain,” but declined to elaborate further.
Leblans father, who lives in Regina, said the Sun mountain lift is a “huge piece of technology.”
“It was an accident that I had to have that lift,” he said.
LeBlanc said he would like to see more Canadian resorts do something similar.
“There’s a lot of Canadian resorts out there that are trying to do this and we need more, so I hope that more resorts do it.”
He also hopes the province’s carbon tax and the renewable energy certificates that come with it are implemented.
“You know, this is what we need in Canada, that the provincial government has been really open to the idea of putting in place some sort of carbon tax,” he added.
“So, it’s not just a question of tax, but also the fact that the province should be responsible.”