eLab Accelerator 2015

Ketchum Energy Resilience

Project Objective

To improve resiliency and address economic and environmental concerns in the Sun Valley, Idaho region by building a clean energy district that combines solar generation, integrated storage, and other distributed energy resources.

Project Team Members

Dave Angell, Customer Operations Planning Manager, Idaho Power
Shawn Bennion, Electrical Supervisor, Sun Valley Resort
Scott Browne, Director of Emerging Technology and Business Strategy, NRG Renew
Rebecca Bundy, Senior Planner, City of Ketchum
Andy Castellano, EarthShine Foundation, Member of Ketchum Energy Advisory Committee
Aimee Christensen, Chief Executive Officer, Christensen Global Strategies, Chair of Ketchum Energy Advisory Committee
Jared Hansen, Principal Engineer, Idaho Power

Project Description

Ketchum, Idaho is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the western US due to world-class skiing at Sun Valley, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, river rafting, restaurants, and art galleries. The community’s electricity system, however, presents significant reliability, economic, and environmental threats. First, the community relies on a single high-voltage transmission line to the grid, presenting a risk of extended power outages in the region. Second, community leaders are concerned about climate change impacts given the critical importance of outdoor recreation to Ketchum’s economy. The Ketchum City Council established the Ketchum Energy Advisory Committee in January 2014 to address energy risks and opportunities, focused on reliability, environment, and economy. At Accelerator, members of the Energy Advisory Committee; the utility; the largest local power user, Sun Valley Company; and technical experts will begin to design the community’s first major investments to address these concerns by developing integrated solutions to connect local generation, storage and critical loads.

Progress Made to Date (pre-Accelerator)

To address Ketchum’s environmental risks, reliability concerns, and economic costs and pricing risks, as well as to capitalize on its renewable energy potential, the Ketchum Energy Advisory Committee is developing a resilience strategy with aggressive draft goals that include 100% renewable energy supply, 50% or greater local generation, and carbon neutrality. The Committee has held two energy town hall meetings to review plans with the community; outlined the energy resilience strategy at the October 2014 Sun Valley Economic Summit; and engaged key business leaders, investors, non-profit leaders, and city, county, and state officials. The City of Ketchum is installing its first solar project, which will provide about 20% of the energy needs of City Hall and fire and police headquarters. In addition, Idaho Power, the local utility, is pursuing design of a “redundant distribution” alternative to reduce risk from the single transmission line into the region, and has created a Wood River Renewable Energy Working Group to identify opportunities to collaborate in the creation of renewable energy products and projects. The proposed Ketchum clean energy district will coordinate these efforts and resources to make concrete progress to reduce risks and capitalize on opportunities.

Post-Accelerator Outcomes

At Accelerator, the team reviewed Ketchum’s energy situation to better understand the challenges, opportunities, and available solutions to build a resilient, renewable grid. The team reviewed distribution system maps and load data, exploring options for integration of distributed generation, energy efficiency, and microgrids to address key needs. Team members identified a need for reliability and economic goals, in addition to the city’s current energy conservation goals. Four scenarios for electrical service were developed to support increasing tiers of reliability need: critical life safety electrical loads, critical loads + protection of property, summer peak load, and winter peak load. Following Accelerator, the Ketchum team is incorporating the insights from the meeting in pursuit of ongoing dialogue with community stakeholders, refinement of the new economic and reliability goals, and developing new energy efficiency programs and distributed energy projects in Ketchum and the surrounding region.