Park City Shoots For Net Zero By 2030 In Time For Potential Olympic Games

Dec 21, 2018

Credit Park City Municipal

The Park City Council has announced it wants to hit its carbon neutral target by 2030. It’s been shortened by a couple of years. A few events such as the Olympics and recent climate reports have prompted the City Council to move their deadline up.  Carolyn Murray has this:

Park City Municipal is responding to the dire climate reports recently that indicate catastrophic economic and geographic outcomes are already occurring from the warming climate. Park City Sustainability Manager, Luke Cartin said the city council challenged his team to find ways to be more aggressive with the City’s carbon goals.

“The inter-governmental panel on climate change, the IPCC just released something called the SR-15. They said, there needs to be drastic change over the next 12 years to even minimize the impact of a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. And, people say 1.5 degrees. That’s not much. If we went from 1.5 to 2 degrees, people who experienced water stress, droughts. It just increases by 50 percent. So, every tenth of degree is a massive impact."

An added impetus to pushing the goal up is that Salt Lake City is the US Olympic Bid City which, if selected by the USOC, would bring the winter games back to Utah. City officials have also remarked that their goal is to plan for a net zero Olympic games.

“The 2030 piece makes sense because, as everyone heard, it really aligns us with the potential Olympic bid. But, also thre are a couple of international pieces going in that direction too. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the SDG’s. Really interesting goals. I really suggest folks check it out. There’s going to be a UN conference in Salt Lake City at the end of August that’s going to focus on sustainable communities and cities.”

Cartin said the RFP going out this month will help reach net neutrality goals city wide. Municipal operations are on course to reach their net zero goal by 2020 and the announcement of a renewable energy facility to be built in Central Utah is part of the plan.  

 Cartin said reaching the net neutral goal sooner rather than later has a substantial impact on the local economy.

“Within Park City boundaries, we spend $24 million-dollars a year on electricity. If you add in diesel, gasoline, natural gas, of not only what’s in the community but getting people to the community and getting people who live here, to work, it balloons over $240 million -dollars in energy spent on fossil fuels. And, when you think of the gasoline and diesel, those dollars aren’t staying in Utah. They’re going to places that are politically unstable. They’re going to Russia. They’re going to Venezuela. And our goal is to say, lets say its $240 million dollars. If we can recapture 10 or 20 percent of that within our community. All of a sudden, that’s 24 to 48 million-dollars. So, this isn’t just saving the polar bears and metric tons of carbon, which people can’t visualize. This could be a serious economic driver for our community and setting us up for success.”

Electric Buses use huge amounts of coal powered electricity at the charging stations. Once the renewable plant comes on line, those buses will transition away from coal fired power.

“So, the electric express line. That was a brand-new bus line. So, we weren’t replacing any buses. We brought new buses on line. So, the new buses that are showing up, literally, like in a week or two, those are replacing diesel buses. They’ll be going from a dirtier diesel bus to a quote, unquote coal-fired electricity bus if you want to put it that way. So, we take the grid’s carbon footprint and then as the new renewable piece comes on line, we can take the grid carbon footprint and slide in our municipal operations footprint for the hundred percent renewable.

The city still must use some diesel-and gas-powered equipment. Cartin said equipment like snow plows and lawn mowers are still big emitters but city leaders are always looking for the best ways to combat green house gas emissions. He said as the equipment evolves, they will pursue the transition to renewable energy.