True Blue Sky

TheTruth

Rocky Mountain Power’s popular Blue Sky program is failing to move the utility away from its aging and polluting fleet of coal power plants towards renewable energy.

More than 35,000 businesses and families in Utah purchase Blue Sky “credits” each month.  Yet, despite this clear support for greener energy, the utility’s power that comes from renewables – roughly 5% — has barely budged since the program began a decade ago.

What kind of electricity is Rocky Mountain Power selling?

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Most comes from the utility’s aging coal power plant fleet and the next biggest chunk comes from natural gas facilities: Together, 80 to 85 percent of our electricity comes from polluting fossil fuels. A recent report demonstrated that among the top 10 biggest power producers in the West, PacifiCorp ranks worst for carbon dioxide, and second worst for mercury, and smog pollution.

Where does the money go?

Blue Sky spends their resources as follows:

  •  41% on renewable energy credits, which allows Rocky Mountain Power to claim the “green” benefit of power they don’t actually buy or distribute
  • 37% on “community based” renewable projects such as small-scale rooftop solar installations
  • 22% for administration and marketing

The funds do support some nice, rooftop renewable projects – but what they don’t do is actually change the overall power mix Rocky Mountain Power produces.

How could Blue Sky be improved?

Many utilities across the nation are working to respond to their customers and bring renewable power on-line. Some even offer customers options of purchasing 50% to 100% renewables.

In Texas, Austin Energy offers their customers a program called Green Choice, via which the utility inks a 20-year contract with Texas wind farms. Unlike Blue Sky customers, Green Choice customers aren’t paying for dirty energy on most of their bills. Since the program’s inception 1,225 MW of Texas wind energy capacity has been acquired to serve Austin energy customers.

By comparison, since 2007, Blue Sky funding has paid for community based renewable energy projects totaling roughly 5MW, according to Rocky Mountain Power.

Put another way: Blue Sky has funded projects that could power about 5,000 average homes.  Meanwhile, Austin’s Energy Choice program powers about 1.2 million.

 

  Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky Program Austin Energy’s Green Choice
Option to Purchase 50% Renewable Power

Option to Purchase 100% Renewable Power

Supports Utility Scale Renewable Development

Protects Consumers against Volatile Fossil Fuel Prices

Resulting Renewable Energy 5 MW 1,225 MW

 

What can we do?

It’s time for Rocky Mountain Power to come up with a better program, one that allows customers who want green energy to directly buy it from utility-scale renewable energy projects. Such a program would have significant advantages, including:

hardhatCreating green jobs and economic development in Utah.


 

fossilprice Allowing customers a degree of hedging against fossil fuel price volatility.


 

solararray  Pursuing the long-term acquisition of utility scale renewable energy resources.


 

Resources

RMPwhitepaper_button1   solarpenalty_button

 

Interested in Solar? Check out our partner organization Utah Citizens Advocating Renewable Energy (UCARE).

 

 

 


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