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.
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.
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 Salt Lake City Sustainability Department and Utah Clean Energy have teamed up with the International Rescue Committee, Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services, and YouthCity Government to achieve a common goal: empower Salt Lake City’s west side neighborhoods with the tools to reduce pollution while saving energy and money.
The unique partnership is the result of a $200,000 investment from Salt Lake City and was announced on April 11, 2019 with the launch of Empower SLC, a community engagement effort to help Salt Lake City residents reduce pollution and save energy on a community-wide scale. The program is being managed by long-time experts Utah Clean Energy.
“Energy efficiency is often the unsung hero of clean air and a healthy climate,” said Kevin Emerson, energy efficiency program director, Utah Clean Energy. “When you save energy at home, you reduce pollution. Now consider the possibilities when we save energy throughout our entire community.
Small steps in energy efficiency can make a big impact on air quality and climate solutions. We are thrilled to bring this pilot program to westside Salt Lake City and make a positive impact in so many lives.”
Saving energy is something everyone can do and the Empower SLC website features a handy list of actions (PDF), with associated energy and cost savings, available to all.
However, the reality is that not everyone can access simple energy efficiency tools.
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.
But we still have a window to act. That’s why it’s critical for local governments to drive policies that reduce energy consumption, catalyze renewable energy development, and transform our transportation sector.
In addition to creating our own plan, Climate Positive SLC, we need to work together to achieve the kind of change our planet and future requires.
That’s why the Mayor has taken leadership roles in a number of high-profile networks, including Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, Climate Mayors, and locally with Path to Positive Utah. She was also recently appointed to chair the Alliance for a Sustainable Future Committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
It’s also important, as Utah’s capital city, for us to lead locally and share the expertise and experience we have with other cities and towns. We can and must be stronger together.
That was the intention behind last week’s meeting, which was co-hosted with the Salt Lake City chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. It garnered interest from mayors and councilmembers from Utah cities and towns representing 750,000 residents which is 24 percent of the state’s total population.
The Roadmap outlines how local governments can implement a variety of electric powered modes of transit including electric vehicles (EVs), e-bikes, electric transit, and electrified ridesharing.
Salt Lake City has integrated a number of these best practices into our internal operations, and we’re now working toward more community-scale projects as part of our Climate Positive SLC plan.
As the capital city’s sustainability department, we also believe it’s important to share what we’ve learned with other local governments.
That’s the idea behind the Roadmap—as well as a workshop we organized March 14 with representatives from 16 local governments across the Wasatch Front to talk about best practices and to view EV options from a variety of local dealers. Read more