Utah Celebrates Clean Energy Week

solar panels on top of Utah Department of Environmental Quality roof

Solar energy holds to the promise of replacing more polluting fuels in Utah.

By McKinely Ball

Growing up my parents would constantly tell my siblings and me that we needed to close the door when we were coming and leaving the house. When I was a child, I thought that this was simply because my parents didn’t want to make the house too hot or too cold. As I grew older, however, I began to realize it was more about the excess energy being used by something as simple as leaving a door open letting out hot or cold air. On September 23, governments and businesses across the nation will meet to discuss innovations to satisfy America’s desire for energy. This will be the third time this meeting has taken place on behalf of Clean Energy Week. Participants will look to answer the following questions: What exactly is clean energy? And why do we have Clean Energy Week? Clean energy, often referred to as renewable energy, is defined as energy that is collected from renewable resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale. Some forms of clean energy include:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Hydroelectric
  • Geothermal
  • Bioenergy
  • Nuclear
  • Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

In 2017, 70 percent of Utah’s electricity was generated from coal, this is down from 78 percent only five years before. Among all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) Utah ranked 34 in their energy consumption per capita and 46 for total energy expenditures per capita. Nearly half of the states renewable electricity was generated through solar resources in 2017. The total amount of solar power was also 25 times higher than it was in 2015. These statistics continue to change as the population of the state continues to grow. Between 2002 and 2014 Utah’s population increased by 600,000 (26 percent) and continues to grow. The growth of the state population leads to the construction of more homes, more cars on state roads and more business growth across the state. More cars, homes and businesses mean more pollution. Despite the rapid population growth, there are still ways to help reduce the amount of pollution being put into the air. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ideas listed on their website of what individuals can do including:

  • Carpooling or taking public transportation
  • Combining errands
  • Using gas-powered equipment in the evening
  • Eliminate or reduce wood stove use
  • Set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees

Utah lawmakers and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have used several initiatives and incentives to help Utahn’s reduce pollution. Just last year, the legislature appropriated $28 million towards an exchange program for wood burning stoves with new gas-burning or electric ones, the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles, free mass transit on days with poor air quality, promotion of telecommuting and encouraging refineries to produce cleaner-burning fuels. On Sept. 6, 2019, Gov. Gary Herbert issued a state proclamation recognizing Sept. 23-27, 2019 as Clean Energy Week. Making Utah one of ten states to formally recognize Clean Energy Week. Clean Energy Week is a time for each of us to reflect on our energy use and how we can make use of cleaner forms of energy. If you’re looking for resources to help make your home more energy efficient look no further than North America Smart Energy Week. The event will be taking place at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Sept. 23-26. Inside the Salt Palace, there will be more than 700 booths featuring all different kinds of retailers and informational organizations. Everything from solar power to high-performance sealants and adhesives can be found at the event.

Learn more about using clean energy and visit the Salt Palace Convention Center Sept. 23-26 to find more resources for helping make your home more energy efficient without putting more pollution into Utah’s air.

I am currently interning with the Department of Environmental Quality while attending my final semester at Weber State University. I will be graduating in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. When I am working or doing homework I am playing sports or watching movies with my wife.