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Posts from the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

Making Headway: An Update on the Community Renewable Energy Program 

As you may know, Salt Lake City is helping lead a coalition of communities working with Rocky Mountain Power to achieve our net-100% clean electricity goals by 2030.   

As 2022 comes to a close, we want to give you an update on the exciting and important work that’s been happening with our goals and the program this year.  

We’ve been steadily developing the governance structure and outlines of the program since it became established in state statute after the passage of HB 411 in 2019.  You can learn more about the beginnings of this program and our carbon goals here. 

This year we celebrated a total of 18 communities moving forward as of the July 2022 participation deadline. (There will still be another vote—likely in late 2023—by each participating community’s council to decide whether to participate in the final program once it’s approved by the Public Service Commission.)  

The 18 communities form what’s called the Community Renewable Energy Agency, the interlocal government cooperative working to design this Program. 

And, together, we can have a big impact on renewable energy development in the state and region!  Collectively our communities represent about 25% of the electricity that Rocky Mountain Power sells in Utah.   

The Program will bring new renewable energy resources to serve Salt Lake City and participating communities, so that by 2030, the amount of electricity we use annually will be matched by renewable generation.   

This means the Community Renewable Energy Program has the potential to source 25% of the electricity the utility sells in Utah from renewable energy!  

This is important because climate scientists agree that in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change on our health, ecosystems, economies, and societies, global emissions must be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.   

Developing and implementing the Community Renewable Energy Program is one of leading strategies that Salt Lake City and other participating communities are taking to #ActOnClimate in line with these science-backed targets. 

Community Renewable Energy Agency Updates 

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Inversion season is here! What can we do?

November 1 is the official start of inversion season along the Wasatch Front and it certainly feels like  winter is settling in around us!

But what exactly is an inversion? This natural phenomenon occurs when a high-pressure system is setting up, trapping cold air on the valley floors with warmer air above it. This warm air also traps all our pollution with the cold air, keeping it contained in the valley until the inversion breaks. 

What causes an inversion? 

Meteorologists on the news and the Utah Division of Air Quality will  warn you in advance before an inversion happens. Here are some signs that you can keep a look out for: 

  • Calm winds: this reduces the natural mixing of air temperatures. 
  • Clear skies: this increases the rate of cooling for air close to the ground. 
  • Long nights allow the cooling of the ground to continue over a longer period of time, resulting in a greater decrease in temperature near the surface. 
  • The sun is lower on the horizon during the winter, so it supplies less warmth to the earth’s surface and more to the atmosphere. 

In Utah, our inversions often occur right after snowstorms due to the increase in cold air near the ground and the clear skies warming up the upper atmosphere and acting as a lid to the cooler air below. 

Inversions are meteorological events that are common in mountain/valley geographies with our weather patterns.  When you pair inversions with human activity, you often wind up with pollution that sticks around.  Here along the Wasatch Front, a significant source of pollution comes from transportation(roughly 50%), as well as our homes and buildings (roughly 35%). That means each of us can make a difference to our air quality. 

What can you do? 

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Salt Lake City and Santa Fe join Boulder County and the City of Flagstaff to tackle climate crisis through regional partnership

PRESS RELEASE: October 5, 2022

A trailblazing partnership of local governments will soon pool resources to fund carbon dioxide removal (CDR) projects in the Four Corners region. The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition (4CCC), established by Boulder County, Colorado and the City of Flagstaff, Arizona, today welcomed Salt Lake City, Utah and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Earlier this year, Boulder County and Flagstaff invested seed funding to launch this coalition with the goal of spurring regional CDR innovation to fight climate change. The coalition will provide catalytic funding to accelerate CDR project deployment and business development.

CDR describes diverse processes, on land and at sea, that take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and durably lock it away in geological, biological and synthetic formations for decades, centuries, or even millennia. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), cutting emissions from fossil fuels is necessary, but it’s no longer sufficient to stem the worst effects of climate change.

“We’re so excited to round out the ‘Four Corners’ vision with two cities that recognize the importance of local leadership,” said Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy. “This collaboration gives local communities the opportunity to put our fingerprints on this emerging and necessary space of carbon dioxide removal (CDR); to hold ourselves and our partners to the highest standards; to show what community-based CDR might look like and the potential benefits of supporting vetted projects in our backyards.” 

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Utah Climate Week Win: Salt Lake City’s Comprehensive Sustainability Policy Now Includes All-Electric Provisions 

What This Means and Why it is Important for our Air Quality and Climate 

It’s the Sixth Annual Utah Climate Week and we’re bringing you news and tips from around Salt Lake City.

Today, we wanted to highlight an exciting update made in 2022 to Salt Lake City’s internal Comprehensive Sustainability Policy.

This policy was originally put in place in 2017 to cover a wide range of practices affecting Salt Lake City Corporation’s internal operations, standards, and protocols across seven different policies.

Each policy addresses the rules, regulations, and sustainable practices that must be considered and/or implemented while executing City operations that fall within one of the seven following categories: air quality and climate change, chemical reduction, materials management, petroleum storage tanks, property acquisition or sale, sustainable procurement, and water.   

For example, the policy includes things as far-ranging as reducing paper waste and minimizing the use of plastic water bottles, to setting the standard when it comes to how we construct or remodel our municipal buildings.

We are practicing what we preach when it comes to sustainability!

The City’s Comprehensive Sustainability Policy was already significant in requiring that new construction or major renovation projects of City buildings over 10,000 square feet be evaluated for Net Zero Energy and be built to achieve at least LEED Gold. Salt Lake City’s Net Zero Public Safety Building and two Net Zero fire stations (FS 14 and FS 3) were constructed with these high environmental standards.

In 2022, at the urging of Mayor Mendenhall, we took the policy even further to require the evaluation of all-electric provisions for major new construction or renovation.

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Solar Salt Lake launches to make it easier for Salt Lake City residents to go solar together

PRESS RELEASE: August 4, 2022

Solar Salt Lake offers limited-time discounts on rooftop solar and education to local residents

Salt Lake City is excited to launch a new program, Solar Salt Lake, that will make it easier for residents to install rooftop solar on their homes through discounted bulk purchase pricing and free education from a community-selected solar installer. 

Starting Thursday, residents can sign up to learn more about the program and enroll to have their home virtually evaluated for eligibility.  

This program is helping to achieve Salt Lake City’s goal of moving towards 100% renewable energy for our community electricity supply by 2030,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We’re working on the utility-scale with our Community Renewable Energy Program, but rooftop solar still plays a critical role in meeting our resiliency, climate, and economic goals. This is another important way that Salt Lake City is taking action to mitigate climate change and improve air quality.”

The Salt Lake City Sustainability Department developed the program under Mayor Mendenhall’s leadership. The program will help up to 50 Salt Lake City residents install rooftop solar on their homes by the end of the 2022 calendar year while taking full advantage of federal tax credits on top of the bulk purchase pricing.

The City went through a competitive Request for Proposals process in spring 2022 to identify a solar installer with a trusted track record that can offer bulk discounts exclusively for Salt Lake City residents. Gardner Energy was selected by the City.

To participate and take advantage of the discount pricing, residents need to sign the enrollment form to have their home virtually evaluated by September 2, and then sign a contract with Gardner Energy no later than September 16, 2022.

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Salt Lake City Residents: Share your Feedback for the Community Renewable Energy Program

Solar panels on the rooftop of the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building.

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Salt Lake City has been a leader on climate initiatives for nearly two decades, taking on progressively more ambitious projects.

In 2016, the City passed a joint resolution establishing our “Climate Positive” goals, which include powering the entire Salt Lake City community with net-100% renewable electricity by 2032. This date was moved up to 2030 in a resolution from 2019.  

We’ve been busy making progress on these and other climate efforts over the last several years, most notably our work on the Community Renewable Energy Program (C-REP). 

What is the Community Renewable Energy Program? 

It began in 2019 when the Community Renewable Energy Act, also known as HB411, was passed by the State Legislature. HB 411 created a pathway for interested communities served by Rocky Mountain Power to work with the company to develop a program that will allow communities to match 100% of their annual electricity consumption with renewable energy flowing to the grid by 2030.  

Salt Lake City became eligible to participate in this Program due to the adoption of a Joint Resolution which resolves to achieve the goal of 100% renewable energy for community electricity supply by 2030.   

Today, Salt Lake City is working alongside 17 other communities to develop the Community Renewable Energy Program.

All residents, businesses, and industrial customers in participating communities will be automatically opted-in to the renewable energy program with the option to opt-out at several opportunities. 

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Eighteen Utah communities join the Community Renewable Energy Agency, continue working with Rocky Mountain Power to meet their net-100 percent clean energy goals

PRESS RELEASE: JUNE 10, 2022

Salt Lake City’s 1 MW Solar Farm.

As of the May 31st participation deadline, 18 cities and counties across Utah have joined the effort to launch a default net-100% renewable electricity option for Rocky Mountain Power customers in their communities.

Participating communities stretch as far south as Springdale, as far east as Castle Valley, as far north as Ogden, and as far west as Kearns. Collectively, these communities account for about 25 percent of Rocky Mountain Power’s electricity sales in the state.

The Community Renewable Energy Agency (also called the “Utah 100 Communities”) formed in response to HB 411, a 2019 bill called the Utah Community Renewable Energy Act, that created a pathway for interested communities served by Rocky Mountain Power to collaborate on creating this first-of-its kind renewable electricity program.

The Agency is currently negotiating with Rocky Mountain Power on how to design the Community Renewable Energy Program, which aspires to match 100 percent of participating customers’ annual electricity consumption with renewable generation supplied to our grid, no later than 2030.

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Salt Lake City Hosted Region 8 Administrator KC Becker for Environmental Forum

This past week we had the pleasure of hosting the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator KC Becker and her colleague Mark Smith for a round table discussion with advocates from 14 environmental groups and agencies across the city.

The EPA provides support and research to protect and improve public and environmental health, as well as enforces and regulates environmental protections. Region 8 is made up of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montano, North Dakota and South Dakota, and 28 Tribal Nations.

KC Becker, the current Region 8 administrator, has 18 years of experience as a public servant for both federal and state organizations. Prior to being appointed as the Region 8 administrator, KC served in the Colorado State Legislature for 4 terms, spending two years as House Majority Leader and two years as the Speaker of the House – at the time, one of only seven female speakers in the United States.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together local sustainability movers and shakers to hear about their/our concerns surrounding environmental issues in Utah and how the EPA can help!

Earlier in the day, she met with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, learned about Salt Lake City’s unique environmental projects and issues, and shared EPA’s priorities.  Administrator Becker also spent some of her time in Utah meeting with the State Department of Environmental Quality.

The EPA is currently focusing on supporting initiatives it has funding for through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill- specifically looking at the redevelopment of brownfields, infrastructure improvements and upgrades, lead pipes, and cleaning up Superfund sites.

Administrator Becker spoke about the EPA’s mission to center environmental justice in all aspects of its work; building stronger relationships with environmental justice groups, community groups, and other non-governmental organizations; and ensuring that all decisions are science-based and focusing on public health outcomes.

Representatives from local groups highlighted their desire for EPA’s support or advice on issues related to air quality, the recent Inland Port developments, the health of the Great Salt Lake, water quality and access, uranium waste in southern Utah, and funding opportunities for the many goals and initiatives of the groups attending.

Overall, the meeting was invigorating and inspiring. Administrator Becker left us with much to do and the support (within her ability) of our regional EPA leaders.


Mayor Mendenhall Releases 2021 Report Card; Outlines Achievements and Priorities in her 2022 State of the City Address

Last week, Mayor Mendenhall released her 2021 Report Card, showing how the City fared on achieving the goals she laid out in January 2021.

We encourage you to check it out– particularly the “Air and Energy” page which details many of the projects we have worked on.

See the Mayor’s 2021 Report Card here.

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Then this week, Mayor Erin Mendenhall delivered her third State of the City address.

In addition to acknowledging the challenges of 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness, and affordable housing, the Mayor detailed significant progress on air quality and environmental initiatives.

She praised the determination residents and business owners have shown throughout the pandemic and other challenges the City has faced.  “The City has shown tremendous resilience and grit; and incredible grace in trying to help others through this time,” she said. 

With environmental achievements, the Mayor described historic progress:

From transitioning the City to net-100 renewable energy to expanding free public transit and planting trees, Salt Lake City is making significant efforts to improve the City’s air quality. 

These are the kind of steps I dreamed of as an air-quality advocate — our city is taking unprecedented control of its energy future,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “Every tree we plant, every mower we swap out, every public-transit ride, every energy-efficient upgrade and every net-zero building that goes up – combined with the 100 percent renewable energy that will soon flow into our city – we are making history together.”

That progress has come through four key approaches: removing pollution, investing in better data, reducing the volume of emissions created, and working to deliver 100 percent renewable energy to the entire city by 2030.

Here are a few highlights as they relate to sustainability from her speech:

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Check out the SLC Sustainability 2021 Year in Review!

Happy New Year!

How is it already mid-January already?! We’ve been busy here the last two weeks on projects for the new year which we’re excited to share with you.

Before that, we’re taking some time to reflect on 2021 and all of the work we accomplished with your support. It’s also an important time to take stock; learn from the experiences we had in 2021; and continue to improve our programs, services, and operations.

Every January, we release a Year in Review with our high-level accomplishments as well as priorities for the year ahead. Below are a few highlights. Make sure to check out the full document for more!

Read the full 2021 Year in Review here.

Saying Goodbye to Team Members and Welcoming New Ones

In 2021, SLCgreen certainly felt the impacts of the “Great Resignation.” We said goodbye to Food & Equity Manager Supreet Gill and welcomed Brian Emerson. In the spring, we parted with the founding director of our Sustainability program, Vicki Bennett, who led our team for 20 years and is also recognized around the country as a leader on these issues.

With Vicki’s retirement, Debbie Lyons stepped up to be Sustainability Director and Sophia Nicholas moved from Communications Manager to the Deputy Director role. We also toasted Shannon Williams, Special Projects Assistant, who moved on to an exciting new role in a new state; while welcoming Bimini Horstmann who hails from Boston (with a stop over at Davidson College) and has a passion for rock climbing and environmental science. And, for the first time, we have a dedicated air quality manager position, filled by Catherine Wyffels who joined our team in the summer. She has brought a wealth of insight and expertise to our department. (See blog).

It didn’t stop there! We gave Gregg Evans, our Financial Manager, to the Public Lands Department (luckily he didn’t go far) but were thrilled to welcome Angie Nielsen to our team in the critical accounting role for our department. Finally, December closed out with Max Barnewitz– the “voice” behind the SLCgreenblog and so many of our outreach functions– moving on to an exciting position with Art Access.

We are proud of how our staff, both seasoned and new, integrated into a cohesive and energetic team tackling a variety of projects this past year.

At the beginning of 2021, the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and climate action were clearer than ever due to 2020’s challenges. It set an important focus for our work last year:

Air Quality, Energy Efficiency, & Electrification

Even with more people than ever working from home in 2021, wildfire and inversion seasons still occur. We developed many new programs and engaged with the public to address these issues from an equitable as well as a scientific lens. Additionally, SLCgreen continued strong efforts to move city departments towards electrification and improve energy efficiency. Some notable achievements in the air quality, energy efficiency, and electrification realms include:

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