Fewer gondolas, slow lifts: Alpine ski resorts have to save electricity

Because of the energy crisis, skiers have to be prepared for an uncomfortable season.

Fewer gondolas, slow lifts: Alpine ski resorts have to save electricity

Because of the energy crisis, skiers have to be prepared for an uncomfortable season. The mountain railways in Switzerland and Austria are already planning cuts in comfort. That means: slower lifts, fewer gondolas, no heating in the toilets.

In view of the looming energy crisis in winter, there could be reduced operation in the Swiss ski areas. If push comes to shove and the government imposes consumption restrictions, the mountain railways could save up to 20 percent electricity consumption, said the managing director of the Swiss Mountain Railways Association, Berno Stoffel, the Swiss broadcaster SRF. "We have different options, with the speed, the number of gondolas and the operating times."

In any case, it should be uncomfortable for skiers, as is apparent from Stoffel's explanations: In a first step, the mountain railways want to voluntarily save five percent electricity and, among other things, reduce comfort. One possibility would be to only offer cold water and heat less in toilet facilities - but not only that, as Stoffel said. "It's about switching off advertising lighting, reducing heating, cold water in toilet facilities, night trips, gutter heating and so on. We are in the process of determining a whole range of measures that the mountain railways can also implement."

So far, Switzerland has not planned any energy-saving regulations and does not have an emergency plan like the EU, in which countries - with a few exceptions - are supposed to voluntarily save 15 percent on gas. When it comes to saving electricity, she initially hopes to bring citizens and industry to five percent savings with an awareness campaign. If that doesn't work or isn't enough, there should be escalation levels. In a next step, something that is not absolutely necessary, such as shop window lighting, should be switched off. However, the approximately 2,400 mountain railways are a central part of winter leisure activities in Switzerland, emphasized Stoffel.

Austria's cable car operators are also considering appropriate savings measures, said industry spokesman Franz Hörl. For example, the night operation of ski slopes could be stopped, snowmaking on the slopes could be saved or cable cars could be operated with fewer gondolas, he told the APA news agency. In addition, prices for lift tickets could be increased. However, Hörl pointed out that cable cars accounted for only 1.3 percent of Austria's electricity consumption. Even when it comes to gas, his industry needs “almost nothing”.

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