Squaw Valley is teaming up with Liberty Utilities and Tesla, with a plan for the ski resort to go off the grid and use 100% renewable energy.

The Olympic Valley Microgrid Project would use state-of-the-art battery storage technology to create a new way to store surplus energy and deliver that stored energy to the utility’s grid. Liberty Utilities has had initial discussions with Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows to explore a potential site on their property, as well as with Tesla, a manufacturer of the type of energy storage system needed to provide more electric reliability in Olympic Valley, California.
After initial research for the optimal location, the project proposal includes installation of a battery energy storage system of up to eight megawatts near Gold Coast, an existing on-mountain facility at Squaw Valley, in an area currently used for materials storage. At this time, it is envisioned that the system would be owned, operated and maintained by Liberty Utilities, while Squaw Valley Ski Holdings would provide the land to house the battery storage system. The project is subject to review and approval by the California Public Utilities Commission and Placer County prior to commencement of construction.

“Battery energy storage can facilitate use of renewable energy sources,” said Greg Sorensen, president of Liberty Utilities’ West Region. “Battery storage can also improve service reliability and help offset purchases from fossil fuel sources during times of high electricity demand, saving money for our customers. The Olympic Valley Microgrid project proposal is just one piece in a larger mosaic of renewable energy and battery energy storage projects that Liberty Utilities is exploring throughout our service territory.”
The use of battery technology would be an upgrade to Liberty Utilities’ infrastructure and would provide an additional source of power that could be distributed through the grid when needed. When overall demand is low, surplus grid energy will charge the batteries via existing Liberty Utilities power lines. When demand is high or the upstream energy source is interrupted, the batteries will discharge to provide power to the grid, offsetting purchases from other sources and thereby reducing costs.
The project will provide additional flexibility to integrate more renewables into the power grid in the future, and help Liberty Utilities work toward exceeding the California state mandate of 50 percent renewable energy supply by 2030. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows recently announced its intention to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources as early as 2018. Liberty Utilities is supporting the 100 percent renewable goals of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and other customers throughout its service territory through the development of new renewable energy projects, particularly solar.
“It is inspiring to work with a motivated and innovative utility provider like Liberty Utilities on a project that will bring tangible, long-lasting benefits to the power grid that supplies our entire community,” said Andy Wirth, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “This project has the ability to significantly increase the resiliency of Olympic Valley’s current power sources, and help set the entire Tahoe Truckee region on a path toward a greater goal of identifying and implementing 100 percent renewable energy sources.”
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows’ sustainability programs are not new – they date back to the resort’s founding; however, they have been expanded over the past seven years as more solutions-based resort initiatives have inspired innovation and a desire to change behaviors. Some of these efforts include banning single-use plastic water bottle sales, introducing ride share and carpool incentive programs, and more.
For more information about the resort’s sustainability programs, visit squawalpine.com/community.

(Squaw Valley I Alpine Meadows contributed to this report.)