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Posts from the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Salt Lake City Celebrates Largest Clean Tech Financing Deal in Program History

Salt Lake City is growing rapidly. Keeping up with the city’s growth in a sustainable way might feel daunting. Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency is one of the best ways to reduce pollution and curb carbon emissions as our community grows.

But those improvements can sometimes be expensive. That’s why Salt Lake City and the State of Utah recently partnered on offering a new type of financing program called C-PACE, which stands for Commercial Property Accessed Clean Energy.

In a nutshell, C-PACE helps commercial property owners obtain low-cost financing for sustainability projects including energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy. The financing structure helps existing and new developments keep up with energy efficiency goals and standards, and is becoming more and more competitive as a financing tool.

Salt Lake City joined the C-PACE financing program in 2018 as a way to help incentivize sustainable development.

And a little over one year later, we are thrilled that the largest C-PACE project in the United States – EVER – just broke ground in Salt Lake City! The Hyatt Regency will be located on the corner of 200 South and West Temple.

Sustainable Development

C-PACE will help ensure that Salt Lake City can meets its sustainability goals. Specifically, Salt Lake City aims to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2040 and shift to net-100% renewable electricity resources by 2030.

C-PACE is unique because of its low interest rates and because it allows for the collection of payment through property tax assessments that stay with the property. That means that the cost and benefits from– for example– solar panels or building efficiency upgrades stay with the property, rather than being a financial burden borne solely by the developer or the original property owner.

The 26-story Hyatt Regency Hotel across the street from the Salt Palace will have 60,000 square feet of convention space and 700 rooms. The C-PACE financing allowed developers to proceed with aggressive sustainability measures including heating and cooling systems. According to CleanFund, the hotel is projected to “exceed the energy code compliance level by over 20 percent.”

The release further stated: “The $54.7 million in Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy contribution provided by CleanFund will fund nearly every sustainable upgrade in the new hotel, demonstrating the effectiveness of the state’s new C-PACE legislation towards achieving Salt Lake City’s environmental goals. It also sets a record for the single largest amount ever financed by C-PACE nationally.”

With Salt Lake City’s booming convention industry, the Hyatt Regeny Hotel is an investment in Salt Lake City’s economy as well as sustainability. Improved energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy will reduce air pollution and achieve a lower carbon footprint for developments.

C-PACE financing helps standardize those practices.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel will open in 2022. Photo courtesy of Salt Lake City’s Economic Development Department.
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Building Resilient Cities

Air quality and curbing carbon emissions are two large concerns for Salt Lake City. C-PACE financing for buildings like the Hyatt Regency Hotel helps ensure Salt Lake City’s economic viability as well as its environmental resiliency.

With the C-PACE program in place, Salt Lake City will be able to continue to help lead the country in building cleaner, more sustainable buildings. We look forward to more investments in 2020!

See what SLCgreen Accomplished in 2019

You can download the full 2019 Year in Review here.

Happy New Year!

It’s 2020 already and we can hardly believe it! Salt Lake City finished out 2019 strong alongside 19 communities that opted into the Community Renewable Energy Act’s pathway to achieve net-100% renewable energy.

But that’s not all SLCgreen got up to in 2019. It was a busy year, and as a community, we have taken major strides in accomplishing our goals. See our full 2019 Year in Review here and read below for a few of the major highlights.

Thanks to all our partners in City government, other government agencies, non-profit associations, neighborhood groups, business partners, and community councils, we are continuing to make SLC more sustainable and resilient.

You can take a look at the 2017 and 2018 reports to see what we’ve been working on over the last few years. Before we set our sights on 2020, here are a few highlights from 2019!

The Salt Lake City and County Building is visible from the roof for the Leonardo Museum, which has several solar panels installed.

Air Quality, Climate Change & Energy

  • After a three-year collaboration with Park City, Summit County, Rocky Mountain Power, and the state legislature, we successfully saw passage of House Bill 411 the “Community Renewable Energy Act” in the 2019 legislative session. The law establishes a legal pathway for communities with 100% clean energy goals to achieve them in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Power.
  • Helped plan and participated in the historic United Nations Civil Society Conference “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Communities.” See the content of our presentations and related videos here.
  • Expanded public EV charging infrastructure, increasing the total number of city-owned EV charging ports to 38, plus 16 at the airport.
  • With Utah Clean Energy, launched “Empower SLC,” a neighborhood energy efficiency program targeting the 84116 and 84104 neighborhoods to improve energy efficiency and conservation measures that reduce pollution and lower utility costs. As of September, over 450 households have been engaged, resulting in an estimated savings of 335,353 kWh per year!
  • Supported Utah Climate Week 2019, collaborating with 35 organizations to highlight climate action.
  • Developed an energy after-school curriculum for youth groups and created a new partnership with YouthCity on programming for the Fall 2019 programs. This resulted in the adoption of “energy” as the central theme of their Science Fair.
  • Hosted the Elevate Buildings awards luncheon, recognizing first-year reporting commercial buildings with ENERGY STAR scores 75 and above and Mayoral recognition of exceptional performers.
  • Received a Blue Sky Legacy Award from Rocky Mountain Power for over 15 years of partnership in the program.
  • Ranked in the top 10 states around the country for solar energy production increase, according to the Energy Information Administration.
  • Bid farewell to Tyler Poulson and welcomed Christopher Thomas as our incoming Senior Energy and Climate Program Manager.

Food & Equity

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Salt Lake City Celebrates 20 Utah Communities Joining the 100% Coalition

Solar panels on top of the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building.
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With the votes yesterday from Coalville and West Valley City, 19 communities in Utah have now joined Salt Lake City in passing resolutions opting into the process created under HB411, the Community Renewable Energy Act.

This law was passed in the 2019 legislative session and establishes a legal framework for communities serviced by Rocky Mountain Power to create a net-100% renewable electricity portfolio.

HB411 was made possible in part through the work between Rocky Mountain Power and Salt Lake City, Park City, Summit County, and Moab, cities that had previously committed to net-100% renewable energy. In 2016, Salt Lake City committed to becoming powered by 100% clean energy by 2032, updating the goal to 2030 earlier this year as the legislation requires.

Passing a resolution by December 31, 2019 is the first step in the public and regulatory process and allows communities to participate in further rulemaking and ratemaking at the Utah Public Service Commission. It also kicks off the process for additional public outreach, which will also allow any Rocky Mountain Power customer in a given participating community to opt-out of the renewable portfolio if they so choose.

Learn more at: https://www.slc.gov/sustainability/100-renewable-energy-community-goal/

“This is very exciting progress,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who also serves as Co-Chair of Sierra Club’s Mayor’s for 100% Clean Energy. “The collaboration we’re demonstrating in Utah—between residents, communities, and our investor-owned utility, Rocky Mountain Power– is not happening anywhere else in the country.

“We’re showing that we can work together to tackle big problems and to seize opportunities. Twenty communities have now taken the first step in moving toward a net-100% clean electricity future as outlined in the Community Renewable Energy Act. I look forward to seeing the continued public processes unfold and I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has been involved in helping us reach this huge milestone.”

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See the Sierra Club press release

Courtesy of the Sierra Club, this graphic shows the communities in Utah that have passed resolutions to begin the process of procuring a net-100% clean electricity portfolio.
As of Dec. 18, 2019.

YouthCity’s Energy Science Summit

Energy is key to our societies, communities, health, and more. It’s also an important concept when we consider the environment and climate change.

Our youngest community members play a key role in inspiring our climate action. Helping students engage with topics including energy conservation, renewable resources, and climate action helps us all build a more sustainable community.

That is why we were thrilled to team up with Salt Lake City’s YouthCity to explore energy for their fall after school program. This year, YouthCity has spent 4 months exploring energy and sustainability. And last week we heard from 22 student groups and several of our community partners at the 5th annual YouthCity Science Summit.

What is YouthCity?

YouthCity is Salt Lake City’s after school program for young people ages 8-19. The program provides student-centered, hands-on opportunities for social, emotional, skills, character, and citizen development in an inclusive and caring environment.

Each year, YouthCity’s after school courses help kids learn about physical health, financial awareness, the scientific method, and more. In the fall, YouthCity focuses on STEM subjects, and for the last 5 years the session has culminated in a Science Summit event where students share what they have learned with their families and peers.

This year, the Science Summit applied energy concepts to real world problems. The Summit featured projects on green power, climate and extreme weather, aquaponics and photosynthesis, renewable energy powered cars, solar power, light energy, and environmental justice. YouthCity instructors and students worked through questions with hands-on science and were able to relate energy topics to real-world issues including air quality, recycling, and public health and safety.  

Why Energy?

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Support Rooftop Solar By Participating in this Study

Participate in a survey that can help determine future rates, and the future of the solar industry in Utah.

We love clean energy! And rooftop solar is no exception.

Also known as “distributed solar”, this is the on-site solar energy that powers businesses and homes with panels installed on rooftops or mounted on the ground. Regardless of the location or size of array, distributed solar is an important step towards a clean energy grid.

These on-site arrays not only save money, they help reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.

Now, home and business owners with rooftop solar have the opportunity to show just how important their solar is. The Utah Public Service Commission is set to evaluate the credit residential solar customers receive for the energy exported to the grid. To help demonstrate the impact of clean solar power to our communities, the organization Vote Solar is conducting a study of rooftop solar in Utah.

If you have rooftop solar, you may have recently received a letter from Rocky Mountain Power about this topic. The letter references signing up to participate in the study. What this entails is allowing your solar array details and usage data to be shared with the non-profit Vote Solar— not with Rocky Mountain Power.

The study will analyze the benefit that rooftop solar provides to the overall grid. Sign up here.

This has been a contentious topic for several years, and was a key issue in a rates compromise brokered two years ago. (Read more on the SLCgreen blog and in the Salt Lake Tribune).

The data from this survey– and the next phase in the ratemaking– could have significant impacts on the future of the solar industry in Utah. That’s something we all should care about!

Utah Solar Power

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Utah ranks 10th in the nation for installed solar capacity. As of 2018, there are 323,532 homes powered by solar across the state, and 6 percent of the State’s electricity comes from solar. And the industry is showing no signs of slowing down.

The need to continue investing in clean renewable resources is critical and benefits our environment, economy, and public health. The average 5 kilowatt solar installation helps home owners and businesses save 50 percent on their energy bills (resulting in $700 savings per year) and prevents 12,159 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

As solar installations become more accessible, more clean energy is able to enter our electrical grid system. In Salt Lake City, residential Rocky Mountain Power customers receive credits for the kilowatt-hours of solar energy that are added to the grid.

A fair evaluation is critical to determining future rates for rooftop solar owners. Among other impacts, the rate structure could have ripple effects on the solar industry in Utah and the 6,000 solar jobs it supports. So if you have rooftop solar, we encourage you to consider signing up to join the study.

Read more from Utah Clean Energy.

Sign up to participate in the study

To sign up, visit: https://csapps.rockymountainpower.net/public/vote-solar

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions at slcgreen[at]slcgov.com We’re happy to chat or point you in the direction of further resources.

Thanks for supporting solar energy!

Calling Small Businesses! Enroll in the wattsmart Energy Efficiency Program

Commercial buildings require a lot of energy to operate. If you’re a small business owner, electrical bills can threaten your business’ success. Indeed, lighting alone represents between 20 – 50% of the typical energy consumption of a small business.  

Improving energy efficiency is more sustainable and cost-effective. By switching to energy efficient LED light bulbs, businesses lower their energy consumption, conserve resources, reduce emissions, and save money. LED bulbs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs!

In an effort to improve energy efficiency opportunities for their customers, Rocky Mountain Power began the wattsmart Small Business Direct program to offer discounts and financing to eligible businesses that switch to LED energy efficient lighting.

Businesses can enroll from now until December 18th to benefit from Rocky Mountain Power’s program.

wattsmart Small Business Direct

The wattsmart Small Business Direct Program

Through the Small Business Direct Program, Rocky Mountain Power provides lighting system upgrades for eligible businesses. Businesses receive an energy assessment, retrofit options, and assistance with energy efficient lighting installation.

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Clearing the air is easier than ever

Winter is coming. And along with it, inversion season. As temperature and pressure changes trap pollutants in the Salt Lake Valley, it is an important time to recommit to reducing our impact.

Air pollution in general is extremely costly in terms of public health and our economy. In the U.S., we spend $131 billion in air quality-related damages each year. The costs to our well-being are enormous. Bad air is linked to asthma, pneumonia, pregnancy loss, and premature death.

Luckily, expansions to our public transportation infrastructure are making it even easier to leave your car at home and help clear the air.

Idle Free sign near City and County Building

Public Transit Expansions

One way to avoid driving is to make use of public transit.

In July, Salt Lake City and the Utah Transit Authority expanded services on three essential routes, the 2, 9, and 21 bus. The expansions are critical steps towards improving air quality because they allow more riders to take advantage of the public system.

The bus route expansions are among several enhancements made possible through the Funding our Futures income (comprised of a sales tax increase, passed by the City Council, and a bond, approved by Salt Lake City voters, in 2018.)

The results are already starting to come in!

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