SB173 was produced by Governor John Huntsman's Renewable Energy Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force. I participated with some of the members of that task force in developing the Renewable Energy Portfolio recommendation. That recommendation was modeled on a Renewable Energy Portfolio adopted by the Oregon Legislature. SB 173 sets the target that 25% of Utah's electricity come from renewable sources by the year 2025. There are interim targets and some exclusions. For example, if consumers would be paying too high a rate for additional renewable energy source to meet a renewable energy target, the provision could be suspended. SB173 also (somewhat like SB169) sets up a task force to develop renewable energy zones throughout the state, based on an assessment of where the renewable energy generation resources are (e.g., wind, geothermal, hydro) and would create economic incentives to entrepreneurs to set up generation plants using these regional resources. SB173 also establishes an authority to coordinate development of transmission lines in Utah so the renewable energy from new generation sites can be transported efficiently to market.
Oregon Representative Jackie Dingfelder, one of the sponsors of Oregon's RPS bill, notes that 22 states have adopted such legislation and none have confronted more than a one percent rise in electricity cost in the state after adoption. It is typical for these adopted RPS to have specific percentage of renewable energy source in the state electric portfolio from a catalogue of renewable generation sources by a particular year, and to have interim benchmark targets to keep things on track.
SB202 was introduced on behalf of Rocky Mountain Power, which had participated in the Renewable Energy Initiative but then decided to produce its own bill, apparently for marketing reasons. SB202 lacks mandatory targets, interim targets, or a timetable for implementation of renewable energy source as part of Utah's energy portfolio. Senator McCoy states he believes the language of SB202 effectively cuts out competition with Rocky Mountain Power for any generating source of less than 300 megawatts capacity.
From my review of a number of studies published recently both in the United States and in Europe, including one by the American Solar Energy Society of which I am a member, I can assure you that we can meet SB173's 25% RPS goal by 2025 by installing off-the-shelf renewable energy technology. In all likelihood, we can exceed that percentage if we put our minds to it, and with application of new renewable energy technologies in late-stage development.
As Samuel Johnson remarked, "The threat of a hanging focuses the mind wonderfully." For better or worse, it appears to require the threat of a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard with achievable hard percentages to be achieved by specific years to focus the minds of utility company executives to adjust their accustomed ways of doing business to incorporate renewable energy into the public electric utility portfolio with any degree of dispatch. We need to cut our total planetary carbon dioxide emissions to at most 20 percent of what we emitted in the year 2000 to avoid run-away climate change due to warming releasing even more greenhouse gas from natural sources in which it is sequestered, such as frozen tundra and hydrate deposits on ocean floors. If we start in 2008, we can reach the target with cuts averaging 2 percent a year. If we wait until 2012, we have to cut emissions by an average of 4 percent a year to meet the 2050 target. Cutting emissions at 2 percent a year is a lot easier and cheaper than making larger annual cuts. As the Stern Report in the U.K. documented in detail, the economic consequences of not making the cuts is far more expensive than what we have to spend to make the cuts.
We need to do the sensible thing and pass SB173.
Richard Lance Christie, Moab, Utah