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Energy Summit: All-Of-The-Above Is Catch-Phrase For Changing Times

Judy Fahys
Panelists for a discussion on energy policy talked about energy companies needing certainty in a time of big changes. The Governor's Energy Development Summit ended Thursday.

The governor’s sixth annual Energy Development Summitfocused on changing with the times. Solar and wind power shared center stage with traditional energy sources, and a familiar refrain kept popping up.

“A true all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute.

“In the context of this all-of-the-above approach,” began Laura Nelson, who leads Utah’s Energy Development Office.

“Utah’s all-of-the-above energy policy,” said Governor Gary Herbert, touting Utah as an energy hub for the world.

They said fossil fuels are still important. But they also talked about the importance of innovation, everything from finding new uses for old fuels like coal and tapping into clean-energy opportunities.

“Frankly, to bet that we’re going to return to some kind of status quo and not continue to change, I would argue would be the riskiest bet that we can make of all,” said Ethan Zindler of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

More than 900 people attended. They learned about overseas prospects for Utah coal. They heard about skyrocketing demand for renewables. David Bywater, CEO of Utah-based Vivint Solar, said energy companies have a lot to lose by resisting change.

“You’ll miss out on some massive trends that will happen,” he said, noting that his industry is growing 15 times as fast as the average industry in the U.S. “And our voters and our taxpayers and our customers and our consumers will elect to have someone else come in and attend to their needs.”

This dialogue about the changes in how we get energy is taking place at an important time in Utah: Rocky Mountain Power has asked state regulators to considering increasing the rates the power company can charge rooftop solar customers.

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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