David Bywater: For a ‘Life Elevated’ tomorrow, Utah needs clean energy today

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune File Photo) Mayor Jackie Biskupski speaks during a press conference on top of the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building Tuesday May 10, 2016. Through the new initiative, Subscriber Solar, the city will nearly double the amount of sustainable energy powering government operations by the end of 2016. Mayor Biskupski has set a 2020 goal to have 50% of municipal operations powered by renewable energy, and 100% by 2032.

If someone asked you to name the top cities for solar in the U.S., you’d probably think of cities in warm, sunny states like Hawaii, California or Arizona. Yet, in my role heading one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, which happens to be headquartered in Lehi, I wasn’t surprised to read that Salt Lake City ranked 11th among top solar cities in the United States. That’s higher than Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin.

Utah has made great strides in recent years powering homes and businesses with renewable energy and creating thousands of clean energy jobs in our state. In fact, this past summer, Salt Lake City accelerated its goal to be carbon free and reach 100% renewable energy by 2030.

The motto of Utah is “Life Elevated.” When I think about what we are trying to do here locally, and as an industry, I think this motto applies perfectly. We are trying to help others live better lives powered by clean, renewable energy. That is “elevated living” in action.

Our vast solar potential and forward-looking approach to clean energy have caught the attention of the Solar Energy Industries Association and Smart Electric Power Alliance, the nation’s leaders in solar research and education. These organizations selected Salt Lake City to host this year’s Solar Power International, the largest solar energy event in North America.

Kicking off Sept. 23, SPI gives Utah a unique opportunity to show over 19,000 clean energy professionals how our use of solar energy can be an example for the rest of the country.

It’s also an opportunity for us to continue to drive toward environmental change. Despite Utahns being quick to adopt new technologies to improve our environment, every year, toxic air pollution hovers over the valley, causing health issues for Salt Lake City residents. State leaders are working hard to address the pressing pollution and sustainability issues we face, and I appreciate their dedication and support their efforts by inviting all Utahns to get off the sidelines and join the fight to make renewable energy the standard across the state.

It’s our responsibility to ensure that we make the world better for future generations. We all have a part to play. I understand it can be challenging for some to fight for environmental causes.

To push for change, you don’t have to create a new world for yourself overnight. Make simple, achievable goals, like reducing your energy usage by just 15%. Take one less flight per year. Carpool more often. When you replace appliances in your home, purchase those that are energy efficient. If you have two cars, replace one with an electric vehicle. And, of course, consider solar power.

I’m sure you’ll find the fulfillment that comes from actively fighting for the cause, particularly now, when change is so crucially needed.

Salt Lake City is leading the way to a cleaner and brighter future powered by renewable energy. I urge all Utah citizens to join together to stand for a greener, cleaner and more resilient future.

The world is counting on it, and the clock is ticking. What will you change today?

David Bywater | Vivant Solar

David Bywater is the chief executive officer at Vivint Solar, Lehi, the largest fully-integrated residential solar provider in the United States.