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.
Salt Lake City and 22 other Utah communities are making exciting progress towards a transition to net-100% clean electricity by 2030. This means that our electric grid will be shifting to clean energy, helping us reduce our community carbon emissions and build community resiliency. On top of that, Salt Lake City is also working towards achieving 90% clean electricity for municipal operations.
In 2019, Salt Lake City passed a joint resolution to shift to net-100% clean electricity for the entire community. To achieve this ambitious goal, Salt Lake City is working with the Community Renewable Energy Program, a program made possible by the Community Renewable Energy Act (House Bill 411). This Act allows local governments to procure net-100% renewable electricity on behalf of residents and businesses.
Working with the state’s largest investor-owned utility, Rocky Mountain Power, 23 Utah Communities became eligible to participate in this innovative program . Powering the community with net-100% renewable electricity is an essential step towards a robust clean energy future for Salt Lake City. Now, the 23 Utah 100 Communities are building a Governance Agreement to guide the communities in our steps forward.
Ask Us Anything!
Mayor Mendenhall and SLCgreen are eager to answer your questions about this ground breaking program. On Wednesday, May 26, we’ll be answering your questions about the Utah 100 coalition, Salt Lake City’s 100% clean electricity goals, and our exciting progress in shifting municipal operations to 90% clean electricity.
2021 is here! SLCgreen is excited to move forward. But as we prepare for the year to come, we’re also ready to incorporate what we’ve learned from 2020.
At the beginning of 2020, SLCgreen was eagerly preparing for a new administration and planning for a year of innovative sustainability projects. After a busy 2019 we were ready to take the next steps towards bringing net-100% renewable energy to our community. A new state-of-the-art recycling facility was near completion. And an innovative resident-led food equity program was convening to help improve food access in Salt Lake City.
The challenges of the past year have been harrowing. Within the first months of 2020, Salt Lake City pivoted our work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We experienced an earthquake that damaged our homes and businesses. Hurricane-force winds toppled thousands of trees and left many members of our communities without power for several days.
Despite it all, SLCgreen was able to accomplish many of our goals with the help of our dedicated crews and community members. The challenges our community faced in 2020 laid bare the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and climate action. The year required us take more direct actions to improve our emergency response plans, to better support the voices of residents who have been excluded in the past, and to expand our communications to facilitate more collaborative work.
SLCgreen is ready to build off of what we learned during the past year, but before we set our sights on 2021, here are a few highlights from 2020.
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.
In July, we said goodbye to long-time program manager Bridget Stuchly who launched and ran our local food programs for 11 years. In August, we welcomed new team member Supreet Gill. Then, last week, we moved offices from the first floor to the fourth floor in the City County Building.
Today we eat the last donut with our co-worker Tyler Poulson, who’s been with SLCgreen since 2013. He and his wife are moving out of state.
We’re a tight team at SLCgreen and while we hate to see our co-workers go (even though we know it’s for new and exciting chapters), it does give us an opportunity to reflect on all they’ve done and how our community has been shaped by their service.
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.
We’re excited to report that the United States Conference of Mayors honored Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, recognizing Salt Lake City efforts to move towards the city’s Climate Positive goals.
Check out the press release below for more details!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2019
Salt Lake City receives prestigious
recognition of climate achievements at U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting
Today at its annual conference, the United States Conference of Mayors recognized Mayor Jackie Biskupski for her leadership to advance renewable energy and tackle climate change. Presented at the “Climate Luncheon,” Mayor Biskupski was recognized for Salt Lake City’s efforts to transition to net-100 percent clean electricity, which made significant strides in 2019 with the passage and enactment of HB 411, the Community Renewable Energy Act.
We have some exciting news! Check out the below press release for details on Salt Lake City’s legislative progress toward our Climate Positive goals.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 22, 2019
Mountain Power partnered with local governments to support passage of the
Community Renewable Energy Act which authorizes a path to net-100% renewable
Representatives from numerous Utah communities along with Rocky Mountain Power will join Governor Gary Herbert at a ceremonial signing this afternoon for the Community Renewable Energy Act (HB 411). The legislation was sponsored by Representative Steve Handy and enables next steps towards a net-100%* renewable electricity portfolio by 2030 for Utah communities with ambitious clean energy goals.
Park City, Salt Lake City and Summit County worked with Rocky Mountain Power for over three years leading up to the passage of HB 411 to envision this first-of-its-kind legislation. The bill authorizes future regulatory filings at the Utah Public Service Commission that will define rules, rates and expectations for the community renewable energy program.
“House Bill 411 is groundbreaking legislation, not just for our state, but for the country. It also represents the biggest breakthrough ever in Salt Lake City’s pursuit of clean energy,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who also serves as co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy Campaign and is the Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Alliance for a Sustainable Future. “Powering all of our homes and businesses with renewable energy by 2030 will cut our community carbon footprint in half and create a replicable roadmap for others across the country.”
“We’re in the midst of what some are calling ‘The New Energy Economy,’ which is both exciting and challenging,” said lead bill sponsor Representative Steve Handy. “When I first heard about the concept of what eventually became HB 411, the Community Renewable Energy Act, I immediately recognized it as groundbreaking. And when it comes to ‘The New Energy Economy,’ I believe that it’s the role of government to remove barriers and let market forces take over, which is exactly what HB 411 does.”
Power will facilitate the transition to a net-100% renewable electricity
portfolio and the utility will continue to provide all of its standard services
for customers. The financial costs and benefits of the program will be isolated
to participating communities so that no costs are shifted to other utility
customers. Additionally, individual customers in participating communities have
the ability to stay on standard Rocky Mountain Power rates through an opt-out
process after the program is established.