Renewable Energy


HEAL Utah has a number of campaigns aimed at cleaning up our state’s fossil fuel heavy energy mix: our True Blue Sky campaign highlights Rocky Mountain Power’s dependence on dirty coal power, the eUtah Project studied renewable resources statewide and identified how Utah could be power by 100% renewables, and our Community Energy Choice campaign is a multi-year effort to make clean energy accessible to all Utahns.

Much of the rest of America is already well on its way to embracing renewables and energy efficiency. No fantasy there, just the reality of the 21st Century that Utah – and our elected officials – need to wake up and start acknowledging.

Along with growth in natural gas, the gap left by coal’s decline has been met by a sharp rise in renewables. More than 37 percent of new U.S. electricity in 2013 came from renewable energy sources, according to federal data. Our other neighbors are also proving that moving away from carbon polluting energy sources is possible. Let’s look at federal data from earlier this year on where our power comes from in the Mountain West. In Idaho, 23 percent of the electricity generated comes from renewables. In Colorado, 19 percent. Wyoming, 11 percent. Utah? 3.8 percent. A sad reality in a state blessed with bountiful wind, solar and geothermal resources.

Investing in renewable energy and energy efficient technologies will help clean our air, help our families stay healthy, and limit the toll of climate change. In addition, it can propel Utah into the ever-growing clean energy economy that our neighbors are taking advantage of.

Utah’s leaders must stop fighting the tide of shifting energy policies and put Utah on a path to embrace them. States across America are already moving away from coal power, and their electricity remains reliable and affordable.

Here in Utah, where we are blessed with abundant land and wind and solar resources, the sad truth is that our utility is even more dependent on polluting fossil fuels than the typical American one.

Despite a logo featuring wind towers, the awards their Blue Sky Program receives, and the many ways they repeatedly tout their alleged commitment to renewable energy, Rocky Mountain Power simply does not sell much renewably generated electricity to Utahns. It’s a company that is good at seeming green – without being so. Check out our True Blue Sky page for more!

According to the company’s own data in its planning documents filed with the state of Utah, the mix of electricity that Rocky Mountain Power sells its customers today is 65 percent coal, 10 percent natural gas, 7 percent hydro, 8 percent market purchases (nearly all natural gas power it buys during peak demand times) and a grand total of around 10 percent renewables, nearly all of that wind.

Another way to crunch our electricity mix is even more unfavorable to Rocky Mountain Power. If you look at power made here in Utah – which includes not just our main utility’s facilities, but some others’ as well – Utah has the worst record in the West. Just 3.8 percent of the power made in Utah comes from wind, solar and geothermal, according to federal data. That’s way behind Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and Mexico. In the states that border Utah, 11 to 23 percent of the generated electricity comes from renewables.

HEAL is working hard to convince Utah’s elected officials and our dominant utility to embrace renewables. However, we need your help to be successful. Click here to sign up for action alerts and get involved!

Recent Posts about Renewable Energy…

Episode #88: Marisol Cortez: Community-Based Scholar and Writer

Matt chats with Marisol Cortez, a scholar, writer and activist based in San Antonio, Texas. Since graduating from U.C. Davis with a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies, Cortez has returned to Texas to advocate for climate and social justice in her hometown. Matt and Marisol discuss gentrification in San Antonio and the displacement of the Mission Trails Mobile Home Park where Matt draws similarities between housing crises in San Antonio and Salt Lake City. They also spoke about a recent presentation Marisol gave at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment conference about “resisting burnout.” Marisol is also a co-founder of Deceleration News, an online journal that reports at the intersection of climate change and social justice. Deceleration is currently seeking contributing writers. 


Let's Take a Ride Into Some Energy Policy!!!

HEAL Community Night!!

Come learn about the state's planning prosses for how to deal with Utah's air quality problem and ways you can help.

  Click Here to Find Out More


The battle for rooftop solar is coming down to the wire, with just a few months until a final decision on whether Rocky Mountain Power can sharply raise rates on new solar customers.

So much has been happening, as HEAL and our allies fight to make sure that affordable clean energy is an option for Utah families. In this email, I want to show you what your support for HEAL has accomplished. (If you need a quick recap on how Rocky Mountain Power is trying to stifle rooftop solar growth, click here to view this Salt Lake Tribune article.)  

Before we deep dive though, if you want to register your support for solar, please take a moment, click here, and let the governor and Public Service Commission know you want them to keep rooftop solar rates affordable.

Here’s one key way HEAL has been fighting for solar: We have put together a detailed study to convince the Public Service Commission (the state body which oversees Rocky Mountain Power) about the merits of rooftop solar. We are proud to unveil the final product!  

The report was authored by expert staff in Cambridge, Mass. at Synapse Energy Economics, a research & consulting firm. Thanks to your generosity, HEAL was able to bring to the solar fight not just the decades of knowledge of these utility experts, but also a local attorney to help us frame the argument for the PSC.

You can review the complete study by clicking here, but we wanted to share its main points.

Let’s take a ride into some energy policy. 

1. Rocky Mountain Power's analysis neglects short and long-term benefits of rooftop solar. 

In the utility's study to the Public Service Commission to justify rate increases on rooftop solar, the computer model they usedoes not include many of the benefits rooftop solar provides. As a result, Rocky Mountain Power's study midleadingly shows the costs of rooftop solar far outweigh the benefits. 

2. With more rooftop solar there is less need to build new fossil fuel plants! 

Rocky Mountain Power's Integrated Resource Planning process (a big study done every 2 years projecting power supply and demand) shows that if there is enough rooftop solar, there is no need to build more power plants. In sum, the utility itself found, but failed to mention when it came to determining solar’s benefits, that widespread adoption of rooftop solar can avoid 455 MW of new electricity demand -- enough to power thousands of homes.

3.  If Rocky Mountain Power analyzed coal plants the way it does rooftop solar, the facilties would fail its own “cost/benefit” test! 

It is no secret that the price of solar panels has dropped remarkably the last few years. What the utility does not want you to know is renewables are now cheaper than coal and their own modeling shows it.

4. Rooftop solar avoids harmful air emissions 

At first glance, you are probably saying “duh.” But, quantifying the cost of harmful emissions from coal plants is pretty hard. Luckily HEAL's experts determined solar can help avoid almost $100 million in health-related costs over the next 20 years. 

5.  Rooftop solar can avoid environmental compliance costs

A coal plant is a simple machine. For decades, a boiler burns the coal to produce steam, that steam spins a generator to create electricity, and a smokestack is where all the emissions get pumped out of. If you look at a coal plant today there is a lot more equipment, almost all of it to clean up the emissions from burning coal. That equipment is not cheap. If you have enough rooftop solar to reduce the need to generate coal power, ratepayers do not need to pay as much compliance equipment. 

If you want more on our findings, you can look at the study here. Or, just let me know if you have any questions! 

However, this study won’t make nearly as big of a difference without your voice to help support it. So please take a moment to send a message to the governor’s office and Public Service Commission and let them know you want to see all the benefits of solar counted. Click here to be taken to our action alert where you can send a pre-written message or (and much more effective) write your own message. 

Onward and upward! 

Michael Shea | Senior Policy Associate



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