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Jazz Arena Gets Infusion of Energy From Solar Panels

Judy Fahys
Vivint Solar and the Larry H. Miller Group companies are powering Jazz basketball this season with solar panels on the Vivint Smar Home Arena downtown. The system output is estimated at 700 kilowatts -- without polluting the air or the climate.

A new kind of energy is fueling this season for the Utah Jazz. That’s because the Vivint Smart Home Arena is now powered by the sun.

“So, we’re on the top of the Vivint Smart Home Arena,” said David Bywater, Vivint Solar’s CEO.

Everybody who climbed up to the roof to see it was offered sunglasses even though it was a Fall day during what’s often Utah’s rainiest month.

“It’s got a majestic view of the mountains behind us,” he says, looking beyond Salt Lake City toward the Wasatch Range. “And, if you look across the rooftop of this epic building, it is a solar farm, if you would, and it’s stunning.”

Twenty-seven hundred solar panels now top the building that the Utah Jazz calls home. That’s enough clean energy to power 89 basketball games and around 100 homes. To generate the same amount of electricity, it would take about 500 tons of coal and pump air pollution and greenhouse gasses into Utah skies.

The solar panels are part of more than $100 million of improvements planned over the next year.

“As we set out to plan this renovation, one of the first things that came up was sustainability,” says Jim Olson, president of the arena. “And as we looked at our 80,000 square foot roof, we knew that solar was the first step we needed to take.”

Salt Lake City’s redevelopment agency is helping with $22.7 million in tax breaks for the updating the arena.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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