As the Winter Olympics kick off this week with an eco-friendly agenda, it seems only appropriate that a previous host of the Winter Olympics announced that they are making their facilities sustainable, as well. The iconic Squaw Valley ski resort, and its sister resort Alpine Meadows, is now dedicated to running on 100 percent renewable energy by December 2018. The change will not only affect the two Lake Tahoe resorts but also the surrounding Olympic Valley area.
So how will the ski resort achieve 100 percent clean, renewable energy? Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows plans to collaborate with Liberty Utilities to source solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable energy. The energy provider also plans to buy and install Tesla batteries to serve as a backup source of clean and renewable power for the area. The batteries will be made near Squaw Valley in Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.
Right now, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows uses 75 percent natural gas and 25 percent renewables. This shift will cut the resort’s annual carbon emissions almost in half. More specifically, the ski resort anticipates that it will reduce its yearly CO2 from 13,078 metric tons to roughly 6,682 metric tons. That’s about the same emission generated by the electricity in 1,000 homes every year.
The resort’s shift will also benefit the nearby area. This project will give more renewable energy options for Liberty Utilities’ other 49,000 customers in California. It also boosts local government goals, like California’s Senate Bill 100 (SB-100), which aims for 100 percent renewable energy use and zero carbon resources in the state by 2045.
Notably, this is not their first effort to go green. The resort already banned single-use plastic water bottle sales on their properties. They’ve also introduced ride share and carpool incentive programs.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows carved out a name for itself and was voted ‘Best Ski Resort’ in North America for three years in a row by USA Today. What gives this resort it’s unique edge is its location in North Lake Tahoe, California.
This position affords Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows one of the longest ski seasons in the area with an average of 450 inches of snowfall and 300 days of sunshine a year. Dubbed the Spring Skiing Capital, the resort’s 6,000 skiable acres across two mountains puts all the more responsibility on its shoulders to maintain and operate a sustainable resort.
The president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadow, Andy Wirth, said in a recent press release, “We take accountability for our company’s contribution to CO2, hence our longstanding and unyielding internal focus on reducing our overall footprint. We’re glad to finally advance on this key, strategic level changeover to 100 percent renewable-sourced energy.”
While Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows may be the first ski resort in the United States to use 100 percent renewable energy, it doesn’t seem like it will be the last. Vail Resorts of Colorado recently said they will be working on a goal to use 100 percent renewable power by 2030. Heavenly Ski Resort may also be running solely on renewable energy by 2032 because of its location in South Lake Tahoe. Hopefully, the trend will continue and ski resorts everywhere will operate with environmentally friendly energy.