December 24, 2008

Melting snow saves businesses money

A Canadian company says businesses can save money using its snow-melting machines to get rid of the white stuff instead of paying to haul it away.

When the snow piles up from repeated storms throughout the winter, many shopping malls and other urban businesses run out of space to put it. So they have to pay to have the excess snow trucked someplace else.

But Trecan of Canada's Nova Scotia province says its machine can melt 80 tons of snow an hour, filtering out any debris and sending the water down the storm sewers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Wednesday. Despite a price tag of up to $350,000 each, customers can cut their snow removal costs by a third, the company says.

Trecan has sold more than 470 of its snow melters worldwide in the past 30 year. Much of snowy Canada isn't a good market for the machines, however, simply because it's a country that's not very congested.

One thing a snow melter can't compete with is space, said company spokesman Terry Dwyer said. There are only one or two melters in western Canada, because there's so much space.

Twin Cities malls such as Rosedale, HarMar Mall and Woodbury Lakes shopping center employ them.

For us, it's either melt it or haul it, and hauling is pretty expensive, said James Swanson, director of mall operations at HarMar. We really don't have anywhere else here we can put snow.