Article

A Green Economy

Utah Companies and Industries on the Forefront of the Green Revolution

Peri Kinder

March 1, 2011

As home to The Greatest Snow on Earth®, not to mention unparalleled landscapes for hiking, biking, camping and other outdoor recreation, Utah is filled with people and companies that are passionate about preserving the environment and leading the way in developing renewable and alternative energy sources, energy efficient buildings and innovative green products.

In his 2010 State of the State address, Governor Gary R. Herbert announced his intent to create the Utah Energy Initiative—a 10-year strategic energy plan that combines Utah’s rich abundance of diverse natural resources with the State’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit—to ensure that Utah is at the forefront of solving the world’s energy challenges. Utah will seek to excel in job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship, global business and quality workforce and have a stable and sustainable business-friendly environment. Under the Governor’s leadership, the State has received several awards and accolades. Most recently, Forbes magazine named Utah the Best State for Business and Careers. One key factor in their decision was Utah’s low cost of doing business, especially its competitive energy costs.

While rich in energy resources, Utah is also known for its National Parks, State Parks and unrivaled natural beauty. It is critical that while the State strives for energy development that it be done in conjunction with preserving the quality of life that draws people to live and play in Utah.

To this end the State of Utah has established a number of goals for the future of energy, which will acknowledge the rich traditional and renewable energy resources that are located in Utah. Some of those goals are:

  • Meet the projected energy growth demands over the next decade by making balanced use of fossil fuels and alternatives and renewable resources in a market-driven, cost effective and environmentally responsible way.
  • Ensure Utah’s continued economic development through access to our own clean and low-cost energy resources.
  • Develop the best new cutting-edge technologies, particularly those that enable us to utilize precious natural resources with an elevated environmental consciousness, and deploy them in Utah, the nation and the world.
  • Create new and support existing energy-related manufacturing opportunities and jobs in Utah.
  • Modernize the regulatory environment to support sustainable power generation, energy transmission solutions and energy conservation.
  • Promote energy efficiency, conservation and peak consumption reductions.
  • Facilitate the expansion of responsible development of Utah’s energy resources, including traditional, alternative and renewable sources.

Green for Green Energy

“As the renewable and alternative energy industries grow, Utah intends to play in a big way,” says Spencer Eccles, GOED executive director. “I see Utah as being a leader in this field due to our natural resources and our trained employees.”

Renewable energy company First Wind agrees that the State is destined to play a big role in energy. First Wind developed a large-scale wind farm in Milford, Utah, which currently generates 203.5 megawatts of clean energy. The company has begun construction of the second phase of the project, which will generate an additional 102 megawatts. First Wind spent almost $86 million with Utah contractors to develop and build the first phase of the project alone.

Peter Sullivan, director of development for First Wind, says Utah has proved an ideal location for a renewable energy project of this scale. “It is hard to think of another place in the country where local and state leaders have been so welcoming of a wind farm,” he says. “A lot of things have to come together to make a project happen. We would never have gotten the project built without the support of the local community.”

With vast amounts of natural resources and open space, Utah is moving to the forefront of states attracting renewable energy companies. And the State’s Renewable and Alternative Energy Development Incentive (REDI) creates the framework for a win-win situation for everyone.

REDI is an aggressive incentive program offered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) targeting companies that are engaged in generating renewable or alternative energy—such as solar, geothermal, wind, hydroelectric or nuclear power, as well as oil shale or oil sand development—or manufacturing renewable and alternative energy components, like wind turbines or solar panels.

“Utah is open for business to all types of energy. We want to keep our portfolio long-term and diverse,” says Samantha Mary Julian, GOED energy and natural resources cluster director.

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