Tuesday, July 30, 2013

World-class resources put Utah at the epicenter of renewable energy opportunities

First Wind--a 306 megawatt, $400 million wind farm--rises above the sand and sage brush near Milford, its turbines spinning out power for the city of Los Angeles. Now in the third of a five-phase development plan, the wind farm has created more than 250 on-site construction jobs, 200 indirect regional jobs and about 15 permanent jobs.

That's what makes renewable energy in rural Utah counties so impressive, says Jake Hardman, coordinator for the Southwest Utah Renewable Energy Center (SUTREC), an educational organization that has partnered with other state and federal agencies to promote renewable energy. "We can take wide open spaces covered in sagebrush and turn it into permanent high-tech jobs, tax revenues and clean energy," he says. "For a small county like Beaver, creating 10 or 15 permanent jobs is a big deal. And with the property tax revenues and skyrocketing land value, it is amazing how much the wind farm is benefiting the county."

Numerous international companies are also looking at Beaver and Iron Counties for wind and geothermal projects. Currently, those companies are determining the strength of the resources and if developing them will be viable commercially. Many of the companies seek assistance from the Utah Office of Energy Development (OED). The OED sees energy development as economic development. It provides jobs and produces the energy necessary to sustain economic development and support Utah's quality of life.

Developing a diverse set of clean and renewable energy resources and technologies is placing the Beehive State at the center of the West's energy future. Utah is one of 12 states participating in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Securing a Clean Energy Future initiative. Utah Policy