Originally published on the Sierra Club website.
A total of 20 Utah communities have committed to 100% renewable energy by 2030, taking advantage of the Community Renewable Energy Act (HB411). Under the bill, Utah municipalities and counties that commit by December 31, 2019 and are serviced by Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) will be supported in achieving a net-100% renewable energy portfolio by 2030. Commitments include: Park City, Salt Lake City, Moab, Summit County, Cottonwood Heights, Holladay, Salt Lake County, Oakley, Kearns, Kamas, Millcreek, Francis, Ogden, Grand County, Orem, West Jordan, Springdale, Alta, Coalville and West Valley City.
“We’re thrilled to see so many Utah communities setting 100% renewable energy goals. HB411 promotes clean air, consumer choice, and a more predictable and resilient energy economy,” said Mayor Andy Beerman of Park City, the first Utah community to commit to 100% in the state. “With nearly boundless solar potential, Utah is leading the way toward a clean and renewable future.”
The Community Renewable Energy Act is an innovative new law that offers Utah communities the chance to benefit from the environmental, economic, and health opportunities provided by renewable energy. By 2030, about 840,000 people in Utah, more than a quarter of the state’s population, could be receiving their power from affordable, renewable energy. The renewable energy industry is growing in Utah. In 2018, Utah had the 10th most solar generating capacity of all states — just one year prior, it ranked 27th. In 2017, more than one-tenth of all the state’s solar generation came from small-scale, distributed facilities. By scaling up solar and wind power, more and more Utahns will be able to enjoy the health and economic benefits of a clean energy economy.
Rocky Mountain Power lags behind nearly all other western utilities in setting carbon reduction goals and transitioning to clean energy. The company — one of the most polluting utilities in the country — currently services 80% of Utah’s energy demand and generates 71% of its power from coal.
“The reality is that renewable energy is safer, cleaner, and more affordable than the outdated coal Rocky Mountain Power continues to sell its customers. Over the last few months, we have witnessed a remarkable cascade of Utah communities committing to and demanding a better energy future from their utility, thanks in large part to hundreds of engaged Utahns calling for cleaner power,” said Lindsay Beebe, Senior Organizing Representative at the Sierra Club.
A move from coal to renewable energy would protect Utah’s iconic parks and recreational industry from damage caused by harmful pollutants and emissions. Regional haze from Utah’s power plants are diminishing the quality of Utah’s iconic national parks — Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Additionally, the continued reliance on fossil fuels has shrunk Utah’s winters by five weeks in the last 20 years, reducing the snowpack, and increasing the intensity of hot, summer days. A transition to renewable energy would enable Utah to protect its environment and preserve the state’s strong recreational, outdoor industry.
About the Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.