Lester-Amity Ski Trails

Solar-powered LEDs illuminate Duluth ski trails

The 11 km Lester-Amity ski trail traverses moderate terrain and stunning woodlands from the confluence of Lester and Amity creeks on the north side of Duluth. This is the most popular ski trail in the city due to the easy skiing and 5 km of lighted trail (now powered by solar).

The lights provide a huge benefit to the early morning or after work skier but also presented a challenge for the city to maintain. “We had to have two electricians replace the light bulbs, rent a 4-wheel drive boom lift which ripped up the trails and required park maintenance to go back in to smooth out the trails and re-groom them,” said Erik Birkeland, property and facilities manager for the city. It wasn’t unheard of for the city to spend upwards of $10,000 annually to keep the lights on and trails in good shape.

The city replaced the outdated lighting with long-lasting, energy-efficient LEDs that provide bright white light perfect for navigating the trails. The project reduced energy consumption by 80%. The city followed up this project by putting up 4 kW of solar PV, further reducing energy consumption by 10%.

In the photo: Alex Jackson, City Energy Coordinator at Lester-Amity Park.

While Birkeland modestly states this project is “small potatoes” compared to the total energy use of the city, it is indicative of the City of Duluth’s approach to facilities and parks improvements—improve customer experience, reduce maintenance and operations time and costs, and save energy.

The city is a semifinalist for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize which will go to the community that most successfully cuts its use of natural gas and electricity during the next two years. With energy efficiency and renewable energy at the forefront, they’re well on their way to success.

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