7,000 Jobs for Utah with Renewables, Efficiency: Study By Carl Levesque (AWEA)

A recently released study finds that new renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in Utah could yield significant economic benefits for the state by 2020, including the creation of 7,000 net ongoing jobs, nearly $310 million in net annual earnings, and a $300 million net annual increase in gross domestic product by state (GDPS).

The report, “Building the Clean Energy Economy: A Study on Jobs and Economic Development of Clean Energy in Utah,” analyzes the economic impacts of an energy strategy that includes a 20% electricity reduction through energy efficiency measures and 20% of electricity coming from renewable resources by 2020. The study was requested by Governor Gary Herbert’s (R) energy advisor, Dianne Nielson.

“This study confirms that increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy development will have a net positive impact on Utah’s economy,” said Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy, the nonprofit organization that led the analysis. “Utah has set goals to increase efficiency and renewables over the next ten years; with leadership and determination, Utah can make clean energy an integral part of our economy.”

Utah Clean Energy collaborated with two economic consultant organizations, MRG & Associates and Wikstrom Economic & Planning Consultants, to conduct the economic analysis.


Renewable Energy ]Inexhaustible and Homegrown

Renewable energy resources complement and help diversify Utah’s existing electricity resources while creating new opportunities for jobs and economic development, especially in Utah’s rural communities.

In 2008, the state of Utah initiated the Utah Renewable Energy Zone (UREZ) Task Force to identify Utah’s homegrown renewable energy resources (wind power, concentrating solar power, and geothermal) suitable for utility]scale electricity generation. Phase I of the UREZ report demonstrates that Utah has enormous technical renewable energy potential to contribute substantially to our growing energy needs.

The new renewable energy resources modeled in the 20% Clean Energy Scenario represent a small fraction of Utah’s technical renewable energy potential, suggesting the capacities modeled are conservative and achievable.

Renewable resources modeled include:
– 475 MW of wind energy generation in Utah (and 475 MW of out]of]state wind generation which does not contribute to Utah economic development in this study);
-241 MW of geothermal generation;
-150 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) with storage;
•-84 MW of residential and commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) distributed electricity; and
•-23 MW of various types of biomass.

The renewable electricity generated from this mix of renewable energy resources expands Utah’s percentage of renewable electricity usage from roughly 4% in 2007 to 20% by 2020.

Utah’s Wind Potential

Utah experienced a historic year for wind energy in 2008, developing its first commercial wind farm in Spanish Fork and the First Wind Milford Wind Corridor Project breaking ground in Beaver and Millard Counties. Both wind farms generated meaningful revenue and jobs, demonstrating that wind power can be an important economic driver in Utah, especially in Utah’s rural communities. According to the UREZ Report, Utah has twelve wind sites with expected gross capacity factors of at least 30% (which is economically viable in the wind industry).

These sites account for 1,830 MW or greater generating capacity,34 which would provide enough electricity for over 534,000 average Utah homes, while also providing numerous additional benefits including: increased annual property tax revenues to counties and school districts; a “new cash crop” to farmers and ranchers in the form of annual land lease payments; and significant water savings over other electricity resources as wind electricity generation uses no water.

This study models the development of 475 MW of Utah wind power, roughly one]quarter of Utah’s highest quality technical wind potential.

Utah’s Geothermal Potential

Geothermal energy is heat derived from the rock and fluid in the earth’s crust. Geothermal electricity provides valuable base load energy (or continuous energy supply), and Utah is among the leading states in the nation for geothermal electricity development potential.

Interest in Utah’s geothermal potential has increased noticeably over the past couple of years, with new projects breaking ground in both Beaver and Box Elder counties, as well as a planned expansion of Utah’s first geothermal power plant, Blundell, in Beaver County. According to the UREZ report, Utah’s geothermal electricity technical potential is over 2,100 MW, which includes 754 MW from identified sites. This study models the development of 241 MW of geothermal electricity by 2020 ] roughly one]third of Utah’s identified technical potential.

Utah’s Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Potential

Concentrating solar power (CSP) is utility]scale solar technology that employs mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect the solar energy to produce steam, which is then used to rotate large turbines and produce electricity.

CSP technologies provide valuable power during peak energy demand periods, and when coupled with thermal storage, the generation capacity can be extended significantly. With Utah’s wide open spaces and ample sunlight, Utah boasts significant CSP potential. When only the highest]quality sites are evaluated, our potential is approximately 11,800 MW, according to the UREZ report.

While the potential for CSP in Utah is enormous and CSP technology is increasingly becoming more cost competitive, this report models a conservative 150 MW of CSP in Utah.

Utah’s Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Potential

Solar PV systems convert the sun’s energy to provide electricity directly to homes and buildings (in the case of distributed generation) or directly to the grid, via utilityscale solar PV projects (not modeled in this study). Though solar PV systems can be placed on the ground, systems are typically installed on rooftops.

Utah’s technical potential for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) in 2010 is 5,000 MW, which could produce enough solar electricity to power 778,000 Utah homes for a year. Solar PV electricity provides valuable summer peak power and helps mitigate the risk of volatile fuel costs and future carbon regulation. Utah has approximately 1 MW of distributed solar PV capacity installed across the state, and there are over 40 active solar businesses in Utah. This study models 84 MW of solar PV installed by 2020.

Utah’s Biomass Potential

Biomass electricity is generated from plant and animal residues and landfill gases through the process of direct firing, co]firing, gasification, pyrolysis, and/or anaerobic digestion (bio]digesters). Currently, there are two landfill]to]energy projects in Utah with a combined capacity of 4.8 MW and a few anaerobic digestion demonstration projects at farm, ranch, and dairy operations across the state.44,45 Estimates indicate Utah has the technical potential for 140 MW of biomass.

This study models the development of 23 MW of biomass electricity in Utah by 2020. As described above, Utah’s vast technical potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy development goes well]beyond the amounts modeled in the 20% Clean Energy Scenario. The 20% Clean Energy Scenario could be implemented with today’s commercially available technologies ] no technological breakthroughs are assumed.

It is also worth noting that construction time for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies is relatively fast, allowing for a rapid deployment of these technologies in the near term, and vast renewable energy deployment upon development of new transmission infrastructure.

Rural Utah Celebrates the Wind

After years of complaining about the wind in Beaver and Millard Counties, local residents are finally celebrating the wind. Thanks to the tremendous wind resource in the area, these rural counties will be home to Utah’s largest commercial wind power project in 2009, which will bring new property tax revenues, economic opportunities and jobs.

In November 2008, the Milford Wind Corridor Project broke ground, just north of Milford, Utah. Developed by First Wind, an independent North American wind energy company, the first phase of the project will provide 203 Megawatts (MW) of wind capacity upon its completion. The project will cover 40 square miles and the power will serve about 39,000 homes in the Los Angeles area.

“First Wind is proud of its track record of developing projects, bringing local jobs and working with the communities. Here in Milford, we look forward to a continued community partnership as this project comes to fruition and brings a host of economic and environmental benefits to the region,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO and President of First Wind.

Spanish Fork Wind Turbines Generate Power and Profits in Utah

In 2008, Utah’s first commercial wind power development finally came to life in Spanish Fork, Utah, generating power and profits for the local economy. The Spanish Fork Wind Power Plant was originally developed by Heber]based Wasatch Wind and then sold
to Edison Mission Energy. Rocky Mountain Power is buying the power under a 20]year power purchase agreement.

The project provides 18.9 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity and is capable of providing power to approximately 6,000 homes. In addition to new jobs, the project provides lease payments to landowners and increased property tax revenues to Spanish Fork City, Resource technology: Wind, Nine Suzlon S]88 wind turbines. Estimated project cost: Just over $32.1 million. Estimated lease payments to landowners: $74,000/year. Estimated property tax revenues for Utah County: $112,000. Estimated revenues to Nebo School District: $84,000/year. Total capacity: 18.9 MW