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Park City Could be Years Ahead of 2030 Date for 100% Renewable Energy With State Renewable Program

Solar Panels in Park City

According to a report by city staff, Park City could be several years ahead of schedule for their goal of attaining 100% renewable energy city-wide by 2030  -- if everything goes according to plan. 


City council received an update on the Utah Renewable Energy Program on Thursday evening and was pretty enthusiastic about what they were hearing.


In short, about 20 communities in Utah have indicated strong interest in signing on to a state-wide community renewable energy program in partnership with Rock Mountain Power. The list also includes Coalville, Kamas, and Salt Lake City, among others. 


In total, the eligible communities represent roughly 25% of the state’s population and 40% of Rocky Mountain’s electricity sales in Utah. If all the communities sign on, it means a lower overall cost for Park City and an accelerated track to attaining that 2030 goal.


Park City passed a resolution in 2016 setting a goal of community-wide 100% renewable energy by 2030. The city, Summit County, Salt Lake City, and Rocky Mountain Power then successfully lobbied the Utah Legislature in 2019 and passed the Utah Community Renewable Energy Act, which laid the groundwork for the current program.


Park City Environmental Sustainability Manager Luke Cartin explained to the council on Thursday that if everything stays on schedule and the proper governance agreements and ordinances are adopted, the city could actually start shopping for renewables almost immediately. It’s even possible some resources could come on line as early as 2023 -- including a new 80-megawatt solar farm being built in Tooele county.


Mayor Andy Beerman asked Cartin if this means the city could be several years ahead of schedule. Cartin said, in a perfect world, yeah, it could.


“Based on earlier projections and conversations, it seems like, I don’t want to jinx this, but it seems like we have the potential to be probably four or five years ahead of where we thought we were gonna be on this?” Beerman asked. 


“I wasn’t gonna say anything,” Cartin laughed. “That would be great.”


The city is budgeting to become what is called an “anchor community” for the program, which would help cover the initial $700,000 cost for the program while other communities decide whether or not to join. 


According to the staff report, as more communities join the program, the dollar amount Park City and the other anchor communities are responsible for would shrink. If all 15 non-anchor communities do join, Park City would ultimately pay about $36,000 over two years to participate.


Councilor Nann Worel told KPCW although no action was taken by the council on Thursday, she and her colleagues were united in their support for the program.


“I think this is a way for us to put our money where our mouth is,” she said. “We have made these aggressive climate goals and energy goals where we’re gonna be 100% [renewable] by 2030 and this is one more step in that direction.” 


The next steps for the council will be adopting the program’s governance agreement as well as appointing a board member, alternate, and staff to represent the city going forward.


The governance agreement is expected to be finalized in April.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.