When Aimee Christensen moved to Sun Valley seven years ago, she brought a wealth of knowledge about sustainability and resilience issues with her from 20 years of experience in policy, law, investment, and philanthropy—and she brought that experience to bear on Sun Valley.
“I realized we had a lot of risks facing us, from the climate changes we’ve been seeing to local energy issues and the economic downturn,” Christensen said. “I came to the realization that we had an opportunity to take those risks and turn them into opportunities.”
Thus, she began the annual Sun Valley Forum, via the Sun Valley Institute, which she founded. Her goals for the forum have been twofold: Bring tech and business leaders to the valley to discuss new innovations and also to get such innovators interested in doing their work in the valley.
The forum features dozens of speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including environmentalism, technology, agriculture, and investment. It will be held this year at The Limelight Hotel in Ketchum from July 5-8.
In the past, the forum focused mostly on presentations by the various speakers, but this year, Christensen has added special breakout work sessions.
“That allows for a lot more interaction and work together,” she said.
One session will carry a strong focus on energy issues, including renewable energy, energy storage, and micro grids.
One speaker whom Christensen is excited to host is David Freeman, who will speak about renewable energy. Freeman was the first public energy official appointed in the country, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967. Later, President Jimmy Carter appointed him chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1977, where he cut sulfur dioxide emissions in half. He led the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the New York Power Authority and other municipal power agencies in the country.
“He has a long history of running major power systems in the U.S.,” Christensen said.
Freeman will offer a look back at how energy systems have changed and discuss the need for faster transformation to new power systems, such as micro grids.
In addition to presentations by policy and technology experts, a number of storytellers will speak at the forum, including Robert Swan, the first person to walk to both the North and South poles.
“He has great stories,” Christensen said. “Also, he will take a trip to the South Pole with his son Barney to raise awareness about the risk facing this beautiful place, using only renewable energy on the expedition so they don’t become part of the problem.”
For more information about the forum and to register for events, visit www.sunvalleyforum.com. VIP passes are $750, while regular forum passes are $475 and local business, local nonprofits and local students can attend for $150.