Renewable Energy

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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 #95: Julie Stewart, Professor At Westminster College

Julie Stewart, a Westminster honors college professor, joins Matt in a conversation about research she and her students did about Utah rooftop solar owners. Julie, an award-winning scholar and teacher who happens to also be Matt's wife, describes the 200+ online surveys and 60+ interviews her team did to learn about who owns rooftop solar in Utah and why. Julie points out that their sample of solar owners was much larger than the one Rocky Mountain Power used to justify its proposed rate hike from 2016. Her team found that Utah solar owners are more diverse than the utility would like to believe, with a significant number of middle-class families in relatively small homes. Julie and Matt also discuss the attitudes of rooftop solar owners towards Rocky Mountain Power (not good!) For more information, check out the "Executive Summary: A Study of Utah Rooftop Solar Power Owners," which Julie and her team produced.

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Episode #94: David Roberts, Vox.com Journalist

Matt chats with David, one of the most important writers today on energy, climate and the environment, about several of his recent columns in the online news outlet Vox. First, they tackle "radical flank effects," about whether more radical forms of activism are useful to broader movements. Next, they discuss renewable portfolio standards, a wonky but important policy tool. David then explains why he thinks discussing population growth and birth rates is a poor choice for climate activists. They chat about why it's important to understand the  logic and economics that explain the actions of utilities like Rocky Mountain Power. Lastly, David describes how he stays optimistic in the Age of Trump. For more information, check out David's lively Twitter feed, his indispensable Vox columns, and his Grist.org articles.

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Episode #93: Author Geoff Dembicki, Asks "Are We Screwed?"

Vancouver-based journalist, Geoff Dembicki, joins Matt in the studio to chat about his new book, Are We Screwed? How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change. Geoff explains he remains hopeful despite the current political moment, hostile to positive policy developments on climate change. His optimism is based, the author explains, on recent election results in Canada and the UK, in addition to the young activists he profiles in his new book. Matt asks the writer about whether he thinks climate activism must be driven by leftist economic imperatives and how he perceives the left's tendency towards factionalism. Lastly, they discuss the climate divestment movement, a focus of the second part of Geoff's book. For more information, check out a review of  "Are We Screwed," visit Bloomsbury's website and follow Geoff on Twitter

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