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Building a Clean Energy Community

In 2019, Salt Lake City set an ambitious goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Transitioning to clean energy will help the City reduce its carbon footprint and build more climate resilient communities. Last week, Salt Lake City took an exciting step towards reaching our climate goals.

The Utah Public Services Commission recently approved an application that allows Rocky Mountain Power to purchase the output from a large new solar farm to be built in Tooele County, Utah, on behalf of six large customers, including Salt Lake City Corp. This solar project, which will be among Rocky Mountain Power’s largest, will provide renewable energy to Salt Lake City Corporation, Park City, Summit County, Utah Valley University, Park City Mountain and Deer Valley ski resorts.

For Salt Lake City, this project will help meet nearly 90% of the City’s municipal electricity needs by 2023.

This means that Salt Lake City’s government buildings and operations will primarily source its electricity from renewable energy. This substantial shift to renewable energy is projected to increase in the city’s electric bill by less than 2%.

Photo of Salt lake City's solar farm near Fleet Department. Photo taken looking north east across Salt Lake City towards mountains.
Salt Lake City has already invested in solar projects to support our ambitious renewable energy goals.

Next Steps Towards Community-Wide Renewable Energy

Moving Salt Lake City’s internal electric consumption to renewable energy is a first step towards community-wide renewable energy. In 2019, the Utah State legislature passed HB411, the Community Renewable Energy Act. This law establishes a legal pathway for communities serviced by Rocky Mountain Power to create a net-100% renewable electricity portfolio.

In 2019 Salt Lake City, along with more than 20 other Utah communities, opted into the process established by HB411. Agreeing to this innovative plan allows communities to work together to achieve net-100% renewable energy. It also means as individual Rocky Mountain Power customers, Salt Lake City residents and businesses will be able to source our electricity from a renewable portfolio!

Solar energy is one of the cheapest sources of power and Utah is an ideal location for solar installations. Nationally, Utah ranks 11th for solar development. Salt Lake City is committed to moving towards a clean energy future, and recognizes the importance of both distributed rooftop solar and larger, utility-scale solar farms. Salt Lake City has invested in 17 distributed solar projects located at local government facilities since 2011. With the advent of more affordable battery systems, distributed solar-plus-battery systems give residents and businesses an opportunity to go 100% renewable for their electricity today.

Photo of Salt Lake City in the summer looking east towards foothills and University of Utah.
Salt Lake City hopes to reduce our community greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2040.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprints

Part of Salt Lake City’s plans to build resiliency and reduce the impacts of climate change is also to reduce our community greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2040 (compared to a 2009 baseline). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our energy use. As more Americans started to work from home, energy use in industry and corporate settings dropped, but home energy use increased. As a result, we can take small individual actions to lower energy use at home and help curb our community carbon emissions.

Graphic shows Quick & Easy Tips to Save Money and the Environment. Blue, green, and yellow shapes accent the top of the graphic. There is a grid of four circles with an energy tip in each. First shows a light bulb and a LED light and reads "swap light bulbs, annual savings $12 per bulb." A blue circle reads "wash laundry in cold water. Annual savings $92." In a lighter blue circle, thermostat settings show different temperatures. The text reads "set your thermostat annual savings $30." FInally, an orange circle with a grey showerhead says "Take Shorter Shower 5 min. Annual savings $22." The bottom of the graphic has Empower SLC, Utah Clean Energy, and SLCgreen logos with text that reads "Get More Energy Saving Tips at www.empowerslc.org #empowerslc."

There are many ways to improve your overall energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions. Here are a few to try from home this winter:

  • Lower your thermostat this winter: every degree saves 3% on heating. And don’t forget to change your furnace filters to ensure the furnace is using energy efficiently!
  • Use LEDs: LED lights last longer and are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. If you’re decorating for the holidays, remember you can also get LED string lights.
  • Weatherize: Improve your homes energy efficiency by weatherizing as winter starts to get cold.

Many of these energy saving actions can also help protect our air quality and save money. Find more simple ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency with the Home Energy Checklist, and check out the incentive programs offered by Rocky Mountain Power and Dominion that can reduce the cost of energy-saving investments.

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