Utah Renewable Communities program on track for approval by end of 2024

Utah Renewable Communities has set a goal to provide 18 communities in Utah with net-100% renewable energy by 2030. Communities in the URC program plan to pool funds and work with Rocky Mountain Power to purchase and develop new renewable energy sources. (Jack Matsen)

Utah Renewable Communities, a project pioneering efforts to provide net-100% renewable energy to local Utah communities, is on track for approval by the Utah Public Service Commission by the end of 2024.

The 18 cities participating in the program, including Salt Lake City, Moab, Park City and others, will work with Rocky Mountain Power to purchase and develop large-scale renewable energy projects. The energy from projects, such as wind and solar farms, would be used to provide residents with a default 100% renewable energy option for their homes, according to the URC website

The end goal of the project, which began in 2018, is to have enough renewable energy projects developed by 2030 to offset the energy consumed yearly by each community, Luke Cartin, sustainability manager for Park City, said.

“We want to build on top of what Rocky Mountain Power produces,” Cartin said. “So let’s say that they’re at 50% renewable electricity by 2030. We’re going to go out and procure an additional 50% … we’ll see where the grid is going and we will go out and bring on additional renewable projects on top of what the grid has done.”

Christopher Thomas, senior energy and climate manager for Salt Lake City, said he expects the program to be approved by the end of 2024. Once approved, URC will focus on acquiring more renewable energy sources, he said.

“We really want to empower our residents (and) our businesses to be the positive change that they want to see in terms of the environment and the climate. And so we’ll really turn our attention to … the most cost-effective renewable energy resources that we can bring online to serve our participating customers,” Thomas said.

The URC website lists the end of 2024 as the date by which the program will be launched. The program is on track to meet that goal, but there are bills currently introduced in Utah legislature that prioritize non-renewable energy and could push back the timeline, Thomas said.

“We hope to submit the program application to the Utah Public Service Commission and have it approved later this year. However, the timeline could slip depending on how quickly we can reach agreement with Rocky Mountain Power on key issues or how long the Commission review process takes. We hope the program will launch by next year,” Thomas said.

According to the URC website, the average household participating in the program “will pay between $2 and $7 extra per month to have the amount of electricity they use every year matched with renewable energy by 2030.”

The program has not yet been filed with or approved by the Utah Public Service Commission, but once it is, communities such as Park City will begin informing residents about the program, Cartin said.

“Once the Public Service Commission gives us the stamp of approval … that’s when we send out the mailers and all those other things,” he said.

Customers will be able to opt out of the program if desired once notices of the program go out to the communities, according to the URC website. More information about the program will be available upon approval.

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