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Batteries at Aspen Skiing Co.’s headquarters not at a mountain-top location

Aspen Skiing Co has proclaimed a first in the ski industry. It has installed a Tesla battery in a building adjacent to its headquarters.

It’s part of a gradual creation of a new electrical system in the Aspen and Vail areas. There, Holy Cross Energy has a goal of 100% emissions-free energy by 2030. Battery storage at dispersed locations is part of the plan for storing electricity when it is plentiful for use later, especially during evening hours, when there’s more demand.

Batteries can also provide backup when power fails, as occurred for 2.5 hours one evening recently in the Aspen area.

“Storage is tremendously useful to us,” said Jenna Weatherred, the vice president of community relations at Holy Cross.

In 2021, Holy Cross began soliciting interest in its residential members deploying storage. Just a handful of people have now installed the Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries in their homes, but about 150 others have indicated interest. Slowing their installation in the program called Power+ have been supply chain issues but also a shortage of workers able to do such installations.

In the case of the Aspen Skiing Co., the battery installation was provoked by Pitkin County’s Renewable Energy Mitigation. The program launched more than 20 years and was designed to mitigate the emissions caused by their electrical demand. For example, a heated driveway was permitted but had to be offset by some alternative, such as solar panels on the roof or, more common at first, payment into a fund that produced such good deeds.

In this case the ski company installed a snowmelt system at the Sundeck Restaurant. Instead of installing the batteries there, it made more sense to install the battery in a place that gets year-round use.

“The resulting grid flexibility from these batteries will help Holy Cross Energy more cost-effectively achieve our ‘journey to 100%’ goal of providing 100% clean energy to our members by 2030,” said Bryan Hannegan, the utility’s chief executive.

Cindy Houben, director of community development for Pitkin County, said batteries lessen the need for expanded electrical infrastructure in rural areas.

Photo of Sundeck Restaurant/Aspen Skiing Co.

Allen Best
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