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Utah City Leaders Commit To Improve Air Quality

Sierra Club

Park City leaders committed to be a net-zero community more than a year ago. Now other cities in Utah are committing to do the same.

When Park City announced it would become a 100 percent renewable energy municipality by 2022, the Sierra Club helped get the word out and build support within the community.

The Sierra Club is a national grassroots environmental organization that works with local elected officials to achieve 100 percent renewable cities across the country. 

After Park City committed to running its operations with 100 percent renewable energy, Moab followed suit and most recently Salt Lake City made the same pledge.

Sierra Club Director Jodie Van Horn says Park City’s leadership and partnership with Moab and Salt Lake City is helping to ensure the program’s success.

“Park City had installed more than 1,200 solar panels on city facilities and added zero emissions and all electric buses to its fleet,” Van Horn said. “And now, the three cities are working to ensure that the utility, Rock Mountain Power, invests in clean energy in Utah to help them meet their ambitious goals.”

Park City Environmental Sustainability Manager Luke Cartin says working with the electric companies is a win-win strategy.

“Utah is actually in a really unique spot right now,” Cartin said. “We are traditionally a conservative state but the renewable commitments that our communities have made has had a lot of traction, especially with the rural communities. We are actually leading the country in the collaborative way we are going about this. Salt Lake City, Park City, Summit County and Moab, we’re not fighting the utility we’re working with the utility  to help figure out a pathway forward. So, it’s really unique and the rest of the country is actually watching us.”

Utah is performing much better than other states, according to Cartin, who says our state’s reputation is growing internationally.

“It’s just not the U.S. but it is also all over the world. We are on the cutting edge in Utah, a lot more than we take credit for. Everything from electric vehicles, Utah is actually one of the highest adoption rates in the country, we just surpassed California in per capita electric vehicles, to this 100 percent renewable piece. It is the cheapest form, it does lock in our rates for 20-25 years. We are set up to lead the country and set up the right path forward.

Park City has mentored other cities wanting to make the clean energy commitment.

“They don’t need all the technical background and understand of regulations and utilities to get it done,” he said. “It is first based on do you have the community will to get it there. And then, the next piece is once you set that path in motion what are the next steps you can do? And that is where in Utah we have a pretty innovated way of going about it with Park City, Salt Lake City, Summit County and Moab all aligned on our goals. Now, all of a sudden we have a much larger way to negotiate with the utility and help find a pathway forward.”

The Sierra Club report is part of the organizations Ready for 100 campaign.