Battery storage will help keep lifts running (Squaw Valley/Facebook)
Keeping a steady flow of electricity to ski and snowboard mountains is a major challenge for operators. So a Squaw Valley move to install a storage system is significant.
Lifts normally stop and start, putting stress on power transmission, and in mountain environments storms and winds are known to knock out power lines.
To combat these issues, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, its power provider and Tesla Inc. have a plan: Install lithium-ion batteries on site to store up to 8 megawatts of electricity to insure a steady supply of power.
“We had quite a few brownouts and blackouts last year,” said Squaw’s Andy Wirth. “This system will provide four to six hours for the community and or the resorts.”
The battery storage project represents a key element of a proposed “micro grid” that will make more reliable power available to Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and the Olympic Village. Not only will the storage safeguard operations, it will reduce Squaw-Alpine’s use of fossil fuels – in form of diesel generators -- which are typically called upon during high-demand periods.
The goal of the micro-grid project, which awaits regulator’s approval, is to provide a local energy source that can supplement the larger grid. As part of the plan, Squaw-Alpine expects to go 100 percent renewable energy sources – supported by California’s commitment to solar and other alternative sources – by end of 2018.
“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,” said Wirth.
Other “green” efforts by the Sierra resort include banning plastic single-use bottle sales on the property, and encouraging both carpooling and ride-sharing.