20 Utah Communities Commit To 100% Renewable Energy Goals
Coalville and West Valley City are the latest Utah communities to commit to transitioning to 100% net-renewable energy use by 2030. There are now 20 local governments participating in the statewide effort.
“We are very excited about the number,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “I was anticipating 12 total by the end of the year.”
Salt Lake City, along with Park City, Summit County, and Moab, were among the first Utah communities to partner with Rocky Mountain Power — Utah’s primary energy utility — in support of H.B. 411, the Community Renewable Energy Act. The legislation passed earlier this year and establishes the legal framework for how participants will move towards the energy goal.
The coalition joins over 100 other cities and counties nationwide that have committed to similar plans. Hawaii and California have gone even further with statewide commitments to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045.
But in Utah, it’s different.
“Whereas other communities have goals, we actually have a pathway,” said Lindsay Beebe, with the Sierra Club’s Utah Chapter.
Beebe said what makes Utah’s strategy more viable than others is the partnership with the power utility.
Under H.B. 411, participating cities and counties will enter into a design phase to figure out what renewable resources they need and Rocky Mountain Power will then seek bids to build them.
Rocky Mountain Power operates the largest coal plant fleet in the west, 63% of its energy production in Utah comes from coal — the dirtiest energy source — and 14% from gas.
“They have plans to keep burning coal plants into the 2040s, a decade past when the best science tells us we have to be off of coal power,” Beebe said.
But the utility has also announced plans to increase its stock of renewables. It is expected to create over 3,500 megawatts of wind and nearly 3,000 megawatts of solar energy through 2023, said Spencer Hall, spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power’s parent company Pacificorp. The wind power alone would be enough to power about 1.7 million homes, based on Sierra Club estimates.
The deadline for other communities to sign on to Utah’s coalition is Dec. 31. Getting in before the deadline ensures they are part of the rule and ratemaking process with the state’s Public Service Commission, though those communities do have the ability to opt-out of the program if it becomes too expensive.