Park City Municipal Will Build A Large Scale Renewable Energy Power Plant

Dec 21, 2018

Park City Municipal announced that an RFP is going out for contracts to build a renewable power plant. Park City has a goal to be operationally carbon neutral by 2022. This project will help meet the deadline. Carolyn Murray has this:

Park City will partner with Salt Lake City, Summit County, Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Utah Valley University. Sustainability Director, Luke Cartin said building the energy facility in Utah is good for the economy providing jobs and a tax base.

“We’re putting an RFP out to build a largescale renewable energy facility which is a fancy way to say either wind farm, solar farm, geothermal or mix of those somewhere in Utah to power our operations. And, that RFP goes out hopefully the end of this week or around the holiday season. It’s one of the last major pieces coming on line.  But, yeah, we’re on track cruising to meet that 2022 deadline.”

Cartin said the City is partnering with other entities because it is more affordable. They have an ambitious goal to begin construction next fall with completion in 2022.  

 “Well, it will most likely be in the central part of Utah. And, everyone says well why can’t we build it in Summit County? The reason it doesn’t make the most sense up here is you know, land cost is expensive. But truthfully, we get snow. So, if you’re building solar panels and they get covered with snow, it doesn’t make the most sense. And, our power comes from six different states right now. So, if we can put  it in central Utah, tie it into some transmission lines. The great thing is it creates jobs and tax revenues for rural parts of the state. So, these folks will get guaranteed property tax revenues for 20 to 25 years, depending on how long the plants in the ground.  Plus, some maintenance jobs and all these pieces. So, it will benefit the state overall.”

Cartin said the city’s operations for 2017 and 2018 show reductions in overall emissions even with their reliance on gas and diesel for some equipment. City buildings are now designed to be net zero.  “We’re designing city facilities to make as much power on sight to handle their annual energy use.”Cartin said bringing the renewable facility on line in 2022 will do a lot to reduce emissions because the city is working now to electrify everything possible, like its bus fleet.   “As we build this renewable plant, we also are electrifying things. The fleets the easiest example. So, we’re switching things over to electricity and then we can feed it with 100 percent renewable electricity as well.”

The Utah Legislature does not allow cities or counties to impose carbon impacts to building code. The City could ban wood burning fireplaces to improve air quality but requiring solar wiring on new buildings or snow melt devices on private property is not lawful.  Despite this, Park City received a Gold Certification from the Department of Energy for making it easier to conserve energy under the existing guidelines.

“We’re considered something called a non-home-rule state. So, compare us to Colorado. The state legislature controls the power on this. So, I can’t touch energy code. It’s just not within our city’s powers. It’s set at the legislative piece. Colorado, communities can set energy code. They can say hey, if you’re going to put in a hot tub, you have to off set it with on sight solar panels. Or, if you want to build a massive snow melted driveway, you need to pay into this fund. We don’t have the ability to do that. We can’t say, no you can’t put in a super inefficient natural gas boiler.”

Cartin said Park City is working with business owners to access special financing through the Department of Energy to update energy efficiencies. He said hotels, retail and resorts seem to be on board with the new goal.

“You can now take a 30-year loan on that, just slightly above municipal bonding rates. So, that can get paid off and it gets paid off through your property tax. It’s a huge, huge financing mechanism for hundreds of thousands of dollars of projects. So, our goal is to really try to incentivize, raise awareness and find those partners. You know, Vail Resorts has a net goal for 2030. Deer Valley came and spoke about supporting our goals as well.”

The joint RFP is going out in the next few days for the largescale renewable power facility. It will be posted for 45 days with completion expected the end of 2020.