Bring renewable energy online • It may cost Rocky Mountain Power a little more to buy electricity generated by the proposed $620 million in renewable energy projects now planned for Utah. And the utility may or may not be able to pass those costs onto its customers. But it will be well worth it if sunny, windy Utah starts to claim its rightful place as home to many more green power providers. The Utah Public Service Commission should approve plans and rate structures that will encourage the realization of plans for an 80-megawatt wind farm in Tooele County and other, similar projects around the state. Rate-setting is complicated and the PSC has to balance many interests along the way. But it is in everyone's best interest to boost renewable power, reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and help clean up our incredibly dirty air.
Open up genetic research • The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled the other day that nobody specifically Utah's Myriad Genetics Inc. can patent strands of human DNA. The decision clearly held that, because DNA is a naturally occurring substance and not a human invention, nobody can claim ownership or exclusive rights to medical tests or treatments based on an understanding of how those genes work. The company's claim to have patented two specific genes, the mutation of which signals susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers, gave it exclusive rights to tests that pinpoint those genes in human patients, and thus allowed the company to charge whatever it wanted. The ruling, which allows Myriad to keep patents it has filed on so-called cDNA, or genes that are altered in a laboratory, will encourage both Myriad and its rivals to continue research in this promising field.
Log on to the Internet • The Census Bureau reported the other day that Utah, a state not world-renowned for being on the cutting edge of anything, comes in a firm No. 1 in the percentage of its residents who have regular access to the Internet. Well, actually, the fact that only 7.5 percent of Utahns don't have Internet access can be linked to something else it rates highly on a young population and a high number of children per household. Such people tend to be early, and eager, adopters of new technology. The practical implications of this new stat include a good selling point for attracting new high-tech business to the state and a convincing argument that Utah state and local governments should be even more progressive about doing business online, and allowing residents to do such things as sign online versions of initiative petitions.