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.)
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.
A year-long effort to create solutions for Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color- (BIPOC) owned businesses on the Westside of Salt Lake City to pursue rooftop solar and battery storage has received a significant boost thanks to a commitment from American Express.
American Express recently announced a $5 million global commitment to help cities build resiliency and fight climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference which took place in Egypt last week. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) has been awarded $1.2 million to work with three cities, including Salt Lake City, to install solar energy systems in our community.
American Express will provide $325,000 in philanthropic support to complement other incentives and financial strategies to help install solar with optional battery systems for small businesses on the Westside. These systems can lower energy costs for residents and businesses, can be more resilient than standard electric sources during extreme weather, support local clean energy jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“I’m thrilled with American Express’ generosity, which will build off the hard work our City team and partners have done to advance solar on our Westside,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We have the tools to reduce climate emissions, strengthen community resiliency, and save our businesses and residents money through clean energy, and this collaboration is a perfect demonstration of that.”
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.”
Salt Lake City’s e2 Business Program is a free consulting and marketing program for Salt Lake City businesses run out of the Sustainability Department. The program is dedicated to helping Salt Lake’s business community run in a more environmentally and economically sustainable manner. We take pride in recognizing the achievements of our members! If you are interested in joining the program or browsing current members, please visit our e2 Business webpage.
This year, e2 Business Program member Arch Nexus officially moved into their newly renovated office space on Parley’s Way in Salt Lake City. The renovation is particularly exciting as it is an officially registered Living Building Challenge project with the International Living Future Institute—the first project of its kind in Utah.
Arch Nexus’ Salt Lake City headquarters was already one of the greenest buildings in the Intermountain West, with LEED EBOM v3 Platinum Certification achieved in 2014 and renewed in 2019. As the fifth occupant of the nearly eighty-year-old building, Arch Nexus preferred to remodel and reuse rather than build something brand new for their offices.
“The greenest building is the one that has already been built,” says Arch Nexus. However, they felt there was more to be done. “Despite our sustainability success, we found the building was still a net-consumer of energy and didn’t collect rainwater nor did it reuse any of the greywater produced by occupants”. When the pandemic hit and the building became empty, Arch Nexus realized there was an opportunity to remodel—and so the Living Building Challenge came into focus.
Salt Lake City Corporation has been using renewable energy to support government operations since 2005, when the Public Utilities Department started turning methane into energy at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Since then, the City has steadily added to its renewable energy profile. By installing solar panels on over a dozen city facilities, becoming the largest subscriber to Rocky Mountain Power’s Subscribe Solar program, and establishing the Salt Lake City Solar Farm, Salt Lake City is able to source roughly 14% of its municipal electricity from renewable energy sources. Although 14% is certainly an accomplishment, it does not fulfill the City’s ambitious goals of achieving 50% renewable electricity for municipal operations by 2020 and 100% by 2030. After taking small steps towards these goals for so many years, Salt Lake City is finally ready to run.
On October 18th in Tooele County, the City and partner communities including Park City, commemorated its largest renewable energy procurement ever with the official groundbreaking of the 80 Megawatt solar farm known as the Elektron Solar Project. The project will support the energy needs of 6 major customers, including three local governments (Salt Lake City, Park City, and Summit County), Utah Valley University, and two ski resorts (Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain).
Elektron Solar Project Will Take Salt Lake City to 50% Municipal Renewable Electricity Goal
With this extraordinary project, Salt Lake City will reach and likely exceed its 50% renewable energy goal for municipal electricity. When the solar farm is up and running in 2023, it will power between 50 and 90% of the City’s municipal electricity consumption. Because electricity generation is responsible for over 50% of Salt Lake City’s municipal GHG emissions, the Electron Project will greatly reduce city emissions, helping to achieve the City’s emission reduction goals and improve air quality.
Salt Lake City and Partners Get Closer to Ambitious Clean Energy Goals With Ground Breaking on 80 Megawatt Solar Farm
Salt Lake City celebrated a huge milestone in its goal of sourcing nearly 100 percent of municipal electricity from clean energy sources by joining partners in breaking ground on an 80 megawatt Solar Farm Tuesday morning.
Mayor Erin Mendenhall joined Rocky Mountain Power; renewable energy developers D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) and Enyo Renewable Energy; Swinerton Renewable Energy; and five other large customers to officially break ground on the 80 Megawatt (MWac) solar farm in Tooele County known as the Elektron Solar project.
“Today we celebrate one of Utah’s most significant renewable energy collaborations,” said Mayor Mendenhall. “Not only will it be among the largest solar farms connected to Rocky Mountain Power’s Utah grid, it’s unique because of all of the partners that came together to make this happen.”
The Elektron Solar project is the result of collaboration between six customers that aggregated their demand for renewable energy into a Request for Proposals (RFP) hosted by Rocky Mountain Power for a large solar farm.
Elektron Solar was selected through the RFP process, and the Public Service Commission approved Rocky Mountain Power’s application last year. The application made use of the Schedule 34 Renewable Energy Tariff, allowing large customers of Rocky Mountain Power to work through the utility to source renewable energy to meet the organizations’ clean energy goals.
The six customers include three local governments (Salt Lake City, Park City, and Summit County), one higher-education institution (Utah Valley University), and two ski resorts (Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain).
Each customer has an aggressive clean energy goal that will be met through the project.
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%.
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.
Salt Lake City recently “flipped the switch” on its latest municipal solar installation on the roof of the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center. The 360-panel array was funded in part by a grant from Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky customers and will generate about 34 percent of the amount of electricity the Sorenson Community Campus consumes annually. This amount of solar generation is equivalent to burning about 129,000 pounds of coal annually.
The 115-kilowatt system was installed as part of the Campus’ larger two-year renovation project.
Through its Blue Sky program, Rocky Mountain Power agreed to fund 41 percent of eligible project costs, up to a maximum of $140,000. The remainder of the solar installation is being funded by the Salt Lake City Sustainability Department.
“We are thrilled to unveil this impressive solar array at Salt Lake City’s flagship community center serving our Glendale and Poplar Grove residents,” Mayor Erin Mendenhall said. “We’re committed to bringing the benefits of clean energy to all areas of our city and we extend our deepest gratitude to Rocky Mountain Power and its Blue Sky participants for making this possible.”
Blue Sky is an opt-in program that gives Rocky Mountain Power customers the opportunity to financially support renewable energy development. Since 2006, Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky customers have voluntarily supported wind and solar energy generation in the region. Blue Sky has provided more than $11 million in funding to community-based renewable energy projects.
The Sorenson Community Campus includes both the Sorenson Unity Center and the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center. The Sorenson Unity Center, located at 1383 S 900 W, houses a fitness center, computer labs and technology center, classrooms, a theater space, art galleries, and more. It offers many community programs, including donated dental services, tax prep assistance, early Head Start, and afterschool and summer programs run by Salt Lake City’s Youth & Family Division.
The Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center offers many youth and adult programs and houses a swimming pool, boxing gym, drop-in childcare, and basketball gyms.
“The installation of a solar array on the Sorenson Campus is a great complement to our educational offerings and community programming,” said Ken Perko, Associate Director of the Division of Youth and Family Services. “Patrons will be able to see the impact of solar production from a cost-savings and energy efficiency standpoint, allowing us to provide direct connections to our environmental education programs.”
“Organizations like the Sorenson Center play a crucial role in our communities and we are grateful to our Blue Sky customers for making renewable projects like these possible,” said Bill Comeau, Rocky Mountain Power Vice President for Customer Solutions.
The Sorenson solar installation is the latest clean energy project for Salt Lake City. The City has installed solar on over a dozen buildings, purchased 3 MW of Subscriber Solar from Rocky Mountain Power, and is working to source at least half of its municipal electric consumption from renewable sources. The City is also partnering with Rocky Mountain Power to achieve net-100 percent clean electricity for the whole Salt Lake City community by 2030. Twenty-two other Utah communities are also currently participating in this initiative.
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 analyzethe 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!
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.
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.
Salt Lake City is excited to host the Solar Power International (SPI) Conference this week, running from September 23-26th. The conference focuses on all things clean energy, bringing together companies and professionals involved in the industry to engage with each other about solar energy and its development.
The SPI Conference was first hosted in 2004, and has since grown alongside the growing solar industry. The conference provides a time and place for those involved in the progression of solar energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and create connections within the industry.
Mayor Biskupski will be participating in the conference, discussing the state of solar in our city and our ambitious carbon plan, Climate Positive SLC.
Other SLCgreen staff will be participating on panel discussions and attending the series of events.