Ultimately, our complete transition from fossil fuels to clean energy will depend on the source for our energy — our utilities. The more our utilities produce renewable energy, from things like solar and wind farms, to power our cities and homes, the less harm we will be doing on our environment, health, and future.
But with the heavy investments that utilities and stakeholders have made in fossil fuels over the years, the switch to renewable energy won’t happen overnight. We are unlocking Utah’s renewable energy potential by conducting energy modeling to show that renewables are more cost-effective, relying on technical experts, participating in region-wide collaborations, and negotiating with Utah’s utilities. By developing economically feasible strategies to generate more renewable energy, we are leading the transition to renewables in Utah.
Utah is naturally set up to thrive on renewables, with the state coming in 5th in the nation for solar potential and neighboring Wyoming being a hotspot for wind farms. HEAL wants Utah to live up to its renewable energy potential so that it can start replacing fossil fuels with clean energy and protect our health and environment in the process.
A large part of our efforts here are focused on Utah’s utilities. We work to show our utilities that they can replace coal generation with solar and wind with little to no cost on them or the ratepayers, while still maintaining things like system reliability, transmission, frequency response, and more. We take part in the Integrated Resource Planning Process and the Multi-State Allocation Process, both of which are utility-run public processes focused on the most efficient approach to utilizing resources and lowering costs across multiple states. By attending these ongoing meetings, we are working to ensure that retiring coal plants are replaced with as much solar and wind generation as possible. We also work to develop and strategize around creative incentives to retire coal.
UTILITY-SCALE BATTERY STORAGE
The need for and impediments to large-scale battery storage are similar to those faced by small-scale residential and commercial users: the need to store excess energy and use it as needed. Right now large-scale storage has high price points. But, just like residential and commercial storage, large-scale battery storage is projected to come down in price so it can be more accessible by more utilities.
Large-scale battery storage has an additional benefit as well: it can help compensate for transmission loss (when you pump energy over a long distance, you naturally lose some percent of that energy) by being placed along transmission lines. HEAL is continually researching and working to develop a statewide tax credit that would incentivize the development of more utility-scale renewable energy projects which could be coupled with battery storage, thus letting the utility store excess energy and distribute it as needed. In 2019 and 2020, we supported state legislation to incentivize utility-scale battery storage and will continue to in the future.