In the face of rising security and environmental threats, other communities, cities and property owners around the world urgently seek to build resilient energy systems that meet their needs. Fortunately, energy innovations are accelerating and it is now possible to build resilient energy systems that meet security and environmental goals, while also being a powerful engine of economic growth: local resources like solar, water, wind, biomass and geothermal have the potential to generate quality jobs while reducing energy prices.
The Institute’s first energy resilience initiative, Solarize Blaine, was launched in March of 2016 to accelerate adoption of solar, tapping into this powerful renewable resource in central Idaho (just 10% less solar insolation than Texas!). The program wrapped up in August 2016 with over 230 participants and 36 new rooftop solar installations. Combined, we brought online five times as much solar electricity in four months as what was added in all of 2015, and given the educational component and outreach, the demand has continued to grow since, creating jobs. Of the 250+ Solarize programs around the country to date, ours had one of the highest participation rates.
Since then we launched RevUp Blaine, our EV adoption program, adding to the awareness and use of electric vehicles in our county, in an effort to match the amazing move to electric vehicles happening in places such as and opening the way for our transportation system to move away from fossil fuel dependency.
In 2018, SVI partnered with the Idaho National Laboratory, local cities and the county to develop a digital blueprint of our electricity system – one of three communities nationwide to do so. We identified power needs and potential projects to ensure ongoing operations for fire, police, water, medical, and communications in the event of power outages and service interruptions.
Next up for 2019: to develop the plans and secure grant, government and private investment to bring priority energy projects online to secure these critical loads, create local jobs and benefit the economy and our environment.
The Local Food Alliance (LFA), the food program of the Institute, envisions a thriving community where people are nourished by fresh locally and regionally grown food every day.
Through our initiatives, LFA works to identify, develop and facilitate effective solutions for our community. As we increase demand for locally and regionally grown food, we simultaneously strive to make it more available and accessible for residents of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. The coordination and support that we provide to farmers, restaurants, schools, organizations, businesses, and individuals helps create the change needed to achieve a resilient local and regional food system.
Information on specific initiatives can be found here.
In 2018, To best leverage local food systems to improve community health, boost economic prosperity and benefit our environment, LFA, in partnership with University of Idaho and Blaine County Food Council, has engaged a nationally renowned food system analyst and economist, Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis, to create a Community Food System Strategic Plan. Ken’s decades of extensive experience will help us prioritize our food system infrastructure work and projects – such as improving storage and distribution. This is a pivotal time for assessing areas of greatest impact. In 2019, we are excited to act on build on and tailor his recommendations.
Sun Valley Forum
Each year the Forum gathers approximately 200-250 national and international leaders and innovators from investment, policy, business, nonprofits, sports and entertainment and academia, as well as local leaders, visitors, and residents, to share strategies, broaden thinking, and ignite new partnerships at this transformational event with a goal of building greater resilience. The Forum showcases successful approaches to building sustainable development, the low carbon economy, and resilience with a particular focus on investment, communication and public engagement. Nestled in the beautiful Wood River Valley and surrounded by five mountain ranges, participants will learn and be inspired while connecting on nature trails, by the river and around the dining table. Our 2019 Forum will take place July 23-26, 2019 at the Argyros Theater in Ketchum, Idaho.
Please navigate here for more information.
Resilient Land Use
Blaine County is fortunate to have significant open space and land resources that can provide us with the food, housing, recreation and the wild areas we need. Given the urgent needs of our community such as housing, stable, year-round jobs, and affordability, we look to optimize our land use to create benefits now and for the long-term. The Institute is leading a project with the objective to deploy innovative land use strategies, new business models, and to match capital and investment partners to realize new opportunities. More information will be made public on this project in 2019; please contact us for more information on previous consulting jobs we’ve done.
In 2018 and 2019, in partnership with Blaine County and others, the Institute is leading our community in a formal process to identify and address our County’s top risks which are in turn opportunities. We are interviewing community members and convening workshops to identify our current gaps, consider future trends, and identify specific projects (e.g., greenhouses, cold food storage, fiber-optic for telecommunications) to address these gaps. The Institute will ensure that each project has implementation plans to be taken forward to fruition.
Please see here for recent information.