JHMR goes green

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is committing to paying extra on its utility bill to get “green power” from the Horse Butte Wind Farm near Idaho Falls.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will now use renewable energy to power its lifts and other operations, making it the largest organization in the valley to make that sustainability shift.

Resort officials announced last week that they would enter Lower Valley Energy’s Green Power program and begin drawing energy from the Horse Butte Wind Farm near Idaho Falls. With the addition of the resort’s 17 million kilowatt-hours of energy use, the percentage of power purchased in Teton County through the program will grow from about 8% to more than 11%. It’s the equivalent of nearly 800 homes.

“We are constantly seeking ways to reduce our impact on the environment,” Chief Brand Officer Tyler LaMotte said in a news release. “Making the transition to running Jackson Hole’s full mountain operations on wind-powered energy is a big step that aligns with JHMR’s core values.”

Phil Cameron, director of Energy Conservation Works, said Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is one of only a handful of ski resorts around the country to fully move to renewable energy. He hopes the switch by such a prominent organization — a major part of the community’s brand, he noted — will persuade other businesses and individuals to follow suit.

“I’m pretty excited that my home mountain runs on green power,” he said. “I think it’s huge, and I think Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has the ability to influence a lot of people with this. It’s really accessible. Anybody with a power bill can buy green power.”

Since Energy Conservation Works partnered with Lower Valley Energy two years ago to promote the program, hundreds of businesses and residents of Teton County have converted to green power. Among them are Snow King Mountain Resort, Jackson Hole Airport and the Center for the Arts. The town of Jackson and Teton County also sustainably source their power.

The region’s energy grid is a “punch bowl,” as Cameron put it, gathering electrons from far-ranging sources and combining them into a single stream of power. Therefore, some of the energy reaching the resort inevitably come from conventional sources like coal.

But the difference, Cameron said, is that the payments are nevertheless going toward the Horse Butte Wind Farm. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will now pay a premium rate to Lower Valley Energy, which will purchase more power from the wind farm, resulting in the production of more kilowatt-hours via wind turbine. And that runs true for every individual and organization that enrolls in the Green Power program: Each commitment raises the amount of renewable energy produced.

“These voluntary programs really are measurable and impactful,” Cameron said. “They let us as customers provide guidance as to how we want Lower Valley Energy to buy power.

“What they’re doing is about as clean as it gets,” he said.

People interested in joining the Green Power program can sign up through Lower Valley Energy’s website.

Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

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