U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
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Utah Perspectives from the Second Annual Harvesting Energy Summit 2007: Outcomes from the "Dialogue Diner" and Stakeholder Panel Sessions

File: Utah Perspectives from the Second Annual Harvesting Energy Summit 2007: Outcomes from the "Dialogue Diner" and Stakeholder Panel Sessions

Date: 4/30/2007

Location: UT

This report summarizes the outcomes of two sessions from the 2nd Annual Intermountain Harvesting Energy Summit held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 26 to 28, 2007. The first session, "Utah Discussion: What Policy Initiatives Will Move Our State Forward?" (held February 27), centered around a small group discussion "Dialogue Diner" activity. The discussants included approximately 30 Utah conference attendees regarding their perceptions of Utah's energy situation and issues facing wind power/renewable energy development in the state. The second session, "Utah Stakeholder Perspectives Panel" (held February 28), included San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams, wind developer Tracy Livingston, Public Service Commissioner Richard Campbell, and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems General Manager Douglas Hunter. The panelists offered their views and answered questions posed by conference attendees on the issues and barriers facing wind power development in the state.

Collectively, the two sessions highlighted several important issues, including the inherent risks associated with Utah's over-reliance on coal-fired electricity generation and the price volatility of natural gas. A number of barriers facing wind power and renewable energy development were identified, including misperceptions and a lack of experience with renewable energy among utility executives, legislators, county commissioners, and other decision makers. The public's lack of awareness and general apathy about energy issues facing Utah were also noted as key problems. Consequently, education for these constituents was identified as an important need.

Several proposals for encouraging wind power and renewable energy included the state's adoption of tax incentives and a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Given Utah's conservative political climate, most recognized the Utah State Legislature's distaste for government mandates. RPS for Utah, nevertheless, is a viable option for the future, given surrounding states' adoption of the policy and increasing market, policy, and social pressures to address climate change (e.g., from California, a significant buyer of Utah-produced electricity). Moreover, renewable energy's inherent price stability and in-state economic development opportunities could appeal to local and state policy makers. Additionally, city council meetings were recognized as important forums for encouraging the adoption of renewable energy, given their control over municipal utilities and policies.

Finally, the important role of renewable energy supporters was recognized as well as the need to maintain and expand a network to share information and coordinate efforts to facilitate the development of renewable energy in Utah. This network would include government agencies, regulators, universities, public schools, local governments, businesses, and clean energy advocates. Some of the major recommendations resulting from these sessions are as follows:

  • Diversify Utah's energy portfolio to include price-stable wind power through incentives and a renewable portfolio standard.
  • Facilitate education and outreach initiatives among utility executives, legislators and policy-makers, and Utah citizens. Such initiatives should explain Utah's energy situation and the inherent risks associated with Utah's over-reliance on coal (e.g., the likelihood of future carbon taxes, dwindling economically accessible coal supplies in Utah, conflicts over water use, and threats to environmental quality and citizens' health).
  • Promote wind power development's economic opportunities for Utah's rural communities.

This information was last updated on April 30, 2007