Earlier this spring we experienced a period of clean air due to lock-downs put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, Salt Lake City’s summer air quality has been recently impacted by smoke from nearby and regional wildfires, as well as from higher ozone pollution that is typical in the summer.
Bad air quality threatens everyone’s health, particularly those with sensitive respiratory systems. The effects of bad air even have the potential to make COVID-19 even worse.Your lungs are already irritated and inflamed due to pollution, and this makes them more susceptible to infections like COVID.
Ironically, the pandemic – coupled with rising temperatures caused by climate change – are also behind the record number of human-caused fires in Utah. The feedback loop linking pandemic, fires, and bad air is disturbing, but there are ways we can take actions to help protect the air.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Are you skeptical about electric vehicles? If so, you’re not alone! Many people have questions and worries about driving an electric vehicle. We’ve busted some of the most common myths to ease your mind and encourage you to consider becoming an electric citizen.
Myth #1: I will run out of power and get stranded without a charge.
This is called “range anxiety” and is a common concern. Research shows that on average, drivers in the U.S. travel about 31 miles per day. Any EV on the market can handle well above that on a single charge. Generally speaking, the range of EVs spans 80-230+ miles.
The average EV battery range is projected to reach 300 miles as soon as 2023. The bigger the battery, the more energy it can store and the further you can go without refueling. Additionally, EV drivers do more than 80% of their charging at home! For those that have long commutes or otherwise drive long distances frequently, a hybrid can eliminate range anxiety, and is cleaner than a gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle. Public and workplace charging are also available to help you fuel up as needed.
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.
The Sustainable Nation Podcast produces interviews with global leaders in sustainability and was developed to provide information and insights from the world’s most inspiring change-makers.
Vicki Bennett has led Salt Lake City’s award-winning Salt Lake City Green sustainability program for 17 years and has integrated sustainability policies throughout government operations and Salt Lake City as a whole. She works with both city agencies and the public to create a more livable community.
Vicki’s experience includes sustainability program management, climate change mitigation, and adaptation, energy policy, food security, waste diversion, and environmental compliance.
The interview gives listeners a glimpse of Vicki’s journey from a lab chemist to her current role as the leader of Salt Lake City Green. Vicki has forged some of the City’s most innovative programs to ensure a healthy sustainable future for us all. Give the podcast a listen to learn more!
October is the month for falling leaves, cooler breezes and– now in its second year– Utah Climate Week!
Why Climate Week?
According to the latest National Climate Assessment, global temperatures will rise by some amount this century. The extent of the increase, however, will depend on how aggressively global society can rein in greenhouse gas emissions.
This change in the climate is already contributing to existing extreme weather patterns all over the world.
The National Weather Service tweeted a record 131 days in 2018 that temperatures in the Salt Lake City area did not dip below 50 degrees F.
Climate change is clearly a concern to our public safety, natural resources, and economic development. But we can all play a role in amplifying the message that it’s time to take action. We can also look at our daily routines and make small changes that add up to meaningful emissions reductions.
These are the goals behind the Second Annual Utah Climate Week.
Utah Climate Week is hosted by the Utah Climate Action Network, a partnership that aims to reduce emissions, enhance resiliency, and engage individuals and local leaders within our state.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2018. Photo: U.S. Conference of Mayors
PRESS RELEASE: September 10, 2018
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Mayor Jackie Biskupski and SLCgreen Director Vicki Bennett join hundreds of leaders and attendees from across the world this week in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) on Thursday and Friday, with partner events kicking off Tuesday and Wednesday.
At a time when the federal government is backtracking on its climate commitments, cities, states, businesses, non-profits, and other stakeholders are stepping in to fill the void.
The Summit is focused on amplifying the commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement, which 195 countries signed in 2015. The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Summit, as described on their website, “is timed to provide the confidence to governments to ‘step up’ and trigger this next level of ambition sooner rather than later.”Read more