On Thursday I attended my 2nd UTC Clean Tech roundtable event. Well worth my commute, the meeting focused on Ted Wilson’s update and discussion regarding the almost complete Ten-Year Utah Energy Initiative plan. Ted covered some of the very tough issues facing a conservative state meeting up with the realities of sustainability and the balance between People, Planet, and Profits.
Energy & the Environment, Consumer Interests, Science & Technology, Transmission & Transportation, & Jobs are all components of the plan. That’s encouraging. All forms of energy are on the table, which is part of the challenge. Coal mining communities are keen on keeping jobs while renewable energy elbows its way into the room. The challenge is to balance the interest of both.
New energy projects in geothermal, wind, solar, CNG, and coal carbon capture & sequestration are all very exciting to me. As I discussed with the group, education and communication of the individual and collective benefits of transitions to more sustainable solutions is key to moving Utah to a better place. By the numbers, the 6c/kW hr for coal is tough to beat, but issues of air pollution threaten health and quality of life.
A very valuable topic of discussion surrounded the concept of energy “efficiency”, how to use less or transition to energy saving technology, transportation, and building practices.
I can’t help but contrast this with my meeting last week with a Ukranian Energy Delegation seeking counsel on communicating energy conservation and new renewable energy initiatives. Ukraine faces serious natural gas shortages and is totally dependent on a Russian monopoly utility for that resource. Every year since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the nation has faced this problem going into winter. Buildings are under insulated, built to lax central planning standards dating back to the 1950’s. This is an nation open to change because they feel the pain of high energy costs and lack of control over supply.
In Utah, we have little pain with comparatively cheap gasoline, cheap CNG, wide highways, cheap water, and abundant supply. Our energy costs per kW Hr are a fraction of those in Ukraine and similar countries. So, what’s to motivate us to change, to improve our carbon footprint, our degrading air quality, our reckless use of finite resources?
This week’s UTC meeting touched on it, but the numbers make sense. There is profit and new jobs all over these new energy opportunities abundant in our state. There is a path to lower asthma rates among children and the elderly. There is the hope for clean-coal technology that works and scales. There is the abundant bridge of CNG to help us along the path.
Now our job must be to educate, educate, educate. Status quo is not sustainable. We want to entice new business move-ins (like cleantech upstart ElectraTherm) , tourism , and raise quality of life rather than waiting until our American Lung Association black list position falls further.
Public comment period opens Oct 15 and the finished plan goes to the Governor on Nov 22.Share