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Sun Valley Forum Makes Things Happen in Coal Country
Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Move over, Allen & Co. The Sun Valley Forum on Resilience is making connections of major proportions, as well.

The Sun Valley Institute’s annual Sun Valley Forum on Resilience sparked a partnership that will create much needed jobs in coal country while creating new energy solutions.

And the Institute and Forum’s founder Aimee Christensen says another major deal is in the works in what she likes to call “deals that matter.”

Christensen recently flew to Pikeville, Ky., where Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Congressman Hal Rogers and Pikeville Mayor James Carter announced that EnerBlu will make a $400 million investment to build a 1-million square foot Lithium Titanate battery manufacturing facility in Pikeville.

It is the first Lithium Titanate battery manufacturing facility to be built in the United States.

The company will also relocate its corporate headquarters to Lexington as it creates 875 jobs.

The job creation is a godsend as the area, historically known as “America’s Energy Capital,” was hit hard by declining employment opportunities in the coal industry.

“All these people lost their jobs because coal is no longer competitive and so this is a real opportunity for people to gain quality jobs,” said Christensen.

Christensen said the dots connecting everything together started at last July’s third annual Sun Valley Forum on Resilience.

That’s where Forum speaker Jonathan Webb, founder and CEO of AppHarvest, saw EnerBlu’s stand-alone solar storage microgrid set up at Ketchum’s Forest Service Park. He approached Daniel Elliott, CEO of EnerBlu, about joining him in Pikeville where he was locating his business’ commercial greenhouse for growing tomatoes. And he initiated an introductory call between EnerBlu and the Kentucky  governor, who invited EnerBlu representatives to look at possible locations.

“We have been working to make a difference locally but we always wanted to be a resource and a model for other communities around the country,” said Christensen. “We hold a forum every year to make things happen. This is the kind of project that we love and we want more to come together.

“This is about doing deals that benefit society, that benefit the environment, that create quality jobs, that address what we need in our communities. These are the kind of deals that we want to see more of all over the world. So. if our forum can help spark these deals, that’s what we should be doing.”

EnerBlu will help power the nation’s transportation and defense industries while providing job opportunities that will harness the highly skilled work force of Eastern Kentucky, noted Gov. Bevin.

The deal means puts the forum on track with Allen & Co., where major deals, such as Verizon’s billion dollar deal for Yahoo or Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, are made behind closed doors in Sun Valley every year.

The Forum was convened in 2015 to accelerate the transformation of communities to more sustainable, equitable secure and resilient places to live and work, Christensen told those at the announcement in Kentucky.  

“With this deal, Kentucky has made it clear that they want to lead the nation in supplying innovative energy solutions by bringing together leadership at the state and local level with private capital and other strategic partners, such as the local utility,” she added.

EnerBlu’s Chairman Michael Weber said that the quality of the people at the Forum and their intimate level of understanding the challenges ahead made the forum the ideal place to test game-changing ideas and EnerBlu’s transformational power generating systems and innovative clean vehicles.

“We were thrilled by the reception we received at this year’s forum and cannot wait until next year,” he added.

The forum brings together 250 national and international leaders and innovators from investment, policy, business, nonprofits, sports, entertainment and academia with a goal of building greater understanding about resilience opportunities.

The 2018 Sun Valley Forum on Resilience will take place July 30-Aug. 1 at Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel. It will be followed again by a day of adventure on Aug. 2 to enjoy local beauty and recreation opportunities ranging from wildflower walks to whitewater rafting.

This year’s forum will focus on a few new topics, including the role of artificial intelligence and how it can help protect the environment and understand natural resources. It will also look at using Blockchain as a way to finance energy projects and at cyber security and grid security.

“We’re also planning to have a lot of participation with local athletes who are globally renowned adventurers and explorers all willing to protect our environment,” said Christensen.

For information, visit

For more information about EnerBlu, visit

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