100% Renewable Energy Community Goal
Salt Lake City is taking steps with our electric utility provider (Rocky Mountain Power) towards becoming a “net-100%”1 renewable electricity community. These efforts will catalyze development of clean electricity options like wind, solar power and geothermal energy for use by Salt Lake City households, businesses and other organizations, helping achieve our Climate Positive goals.
(See the press release from our Earth Day announcement).
During the 2019 legislative session the Utah Legislature passed the Community Renewable Energy Act (HB 411). This law authorizes next steps that will define the rules, rates and expectations for participating communities and customers in Utah desiring net-100% renewable electricity. The process required to achieve this goal will take place over a number of years leading into the 2020s.
This page includes more info below on Salt Lake City’s community renewable energy goal along with answers to frequently asked questions.
1 The term “net” is used to denote that the new renewable energy generation resources will be integrated into the broader regional electric grid and power provided to the Salt Lake City community will not always be directly related to renewable projects. Rather, the goal is to catalyze construction of enough new renewable energy resources to meet all net annual community electricity needs on a yearly basis..
Salt Lake City Energy and Carbon Reduction Goals
Details on Salt Lake City’s renewable energy and carbon reduction goals are available in our Climate Positive 2040 plan. The Mayor and City Council have jointly set ambitions to power the community with net-100% renewable electricity while also reducing energy-related community carbon emissions 80% by 2040.
Powering the community with net-100% renewable electricity is an essential step towards a robust clean energy future for Salt Lake City. Please check out the other SLC Sustainability webpages on this site for details on our other sustainability work, plus follow us on social media and through our weekly e-newsletter for recurring updates.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Goal Information and Renewable Energy Details
- What is the goal year for achieving net-100% renewable electricity?
The Community Renewable Energy Act (“the Act”) requires that participating communities adopt a local resolution by the end of 2019 with the goal to achieve net-100% renewable electricity by 2030. Salt Lake City Council and the Mayor previously adopted a joint resolution in 2016 with the goal of achieving net-100% renewable energy by 2032. In August 2019, the community goal year was updated to 2030 to reflect participation in this new program being facilitated by Rocky Mountain Power.
- How can I participate and help advance progress towards community goals?
You can help by reducing energy waste in your homes and businesses, a step that cuts carbon pollution and saves you money. Rocky Mountain Power and Dominion Energy both offer a variety of energy efficiency incentives for their customers. Installing renewable energy on your property also moves us closer to achieving a net-100% renewable community target. For more tips, check out our What You Can Do page and also follow SLCgreen on social media and through our weekly e-newsletter.
- Am I required to install renewable energy (e.g., solar panels) on my property?
No. The net-100% renewable electricity goal does not require the installation of any renewable energy resources on private property in participating communities. Renewable energy resources envisioned with this program are mostly “utility-scale” in size with Rocky Mountain Power helping facilitate the process and site selection. Individual customers wishing to install renewable energy on their property can still do so, but only if desired.
- What types of renewable energy resources will be developed and where?
Decisions on renewable energy resource type and location will be formalized through a regulated process at the Utah Public Service Commission. Solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power may all be considered through competitive procurement processes.
- Will electric system reliability be impacted by installing intermittent renewable energy?
No. The integration of renewable energy technologies will be coordinated and subject to standard regulatory requirements to ensure power reliability and that our “lights stay on.”
- What does “net-100%” renewable electricity mean?
As indicated in the footnote 1 above, Salt Lake City has a goal to be powered by renewable electricity on a “net-100%” annual basis. This means that the total electricity needs of the community over the course of the year are met by a comparable amount of total renewable energy generation. Energy storage and associated technologies are also allowed by the legislation, but are not a necessity to maintain power reliability when the sun doesn’t shine or wind doesn’t blow. Participating communities will still likely rely on general system resources to some degree, including power from fossil fuels, although we expect the creation of new renewable energy resources to result in sizable carbon emissions reductions.
Program Participation, Steps and Estimated Timeline
- How will this impact costs on my electric utility bill?
Electricity rates for participating customers and communities will be determined through a regulated process at the Utah Public Service Commission. This multi-year process is beginning in 2019 and will ensure that financial costs and benefits associated with pursuing a net-100% renewable energy portfolio are isolated to participating communities. After initial rates are estimated, participating communities must then adopt a local ordinance that would authorize the program to move forward. This future ordinance process will include public hearings and the ability to provide input to local elected officials. As with standard electricity rates, utility rates for participating customers in the renewable energy program will be subject to change based on market conditions and other factors.
- Do I have to participate in the community renewable energy program or can I stay on standard Rocky Mountain Power rates?
All local customers will have the ability to “opt-out” and stay on standard electricity rates. The Community Renewable Energy Act details a number of minimum customer noticing requirements, including providing two dedicated notices with information on anticipated rates and rules of the program. There will also be at least three billing cycles once the program begins where customers will be able to move back to Rocky Mountain Power standard service by providing appropriate notice.
The community renewable energy program creates a net-100% renewable electricity standard for participating communities, but still retains local customer choice through its opt-out requirements detailed above. Customers who wish to return to standard rates after the initial opt-out window may be able to do so depending on Public Service Commission rules, including a potential termination charge (details TBD).
- How many Utah communities are going to adopt a net-100% renewable electricity portfolio?
Utah communities served by Rocky Mountain Power and interested in participating were required to pass a local resolution with goal details, referenced in the Community Renewable Energy Act, by December 31, 2019 and then complete a variety of steps in future years as required by the legislation. As of July 2020, 23 communities, including Salt Lake City, have opted-in to participate.
- When will this program formally begin?
Exact timing on program implementation is still to be determined. A process known as “rulemaking” is underway in 2020 at the Utah Public Service Commission that will help provide clarity on program requirements and expectations. The community renewable energy program has not yet begun. We will update this webpage with more information as it becomes available. If you have questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 801-535-6470.