Bill to allow counties to buy bulk amounts of renewable energy stalls
Allowing Utah counties to make bulk purchases of electricity from renewable sources may sound good on paper, but such arrangements could be a logistical nightmare and raise power costs, according to testimony before a House panel Tuesday.
After hearing from several witnesses, the House Political Subdivisions Committee voted to not act on HB110, but instead recommended it for interim study to work out its bugs.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, was intended to allow cities and counties to purchase solar, wind and other renewable forms of power on behalf of residents who want the ability to choose cleaner power sources.
But Rocky Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility, and others said this model is not a good fit for Utah, with its highly regulated power markets served by monopoly providers.
Summit County and Salt Lake City leaders spoke in favor of the bill as a way to allow citizens to "vote with their pocketbooks." But there was little enthusiasm from Carbon County, named for its legacy of coal mining.
Committee member Jerry Anderson, R-Price, said the measure’s aim is to put "the coal business out of business."
Earlier in the day, he proclaimed the atmosphere could use more carbon dioxide, which coal burning releases in vast amounts. Joe Andrade, a retired University of Utah engineering professor, said there is scientific consensus that such emissions are warming the planet.