Newly Created Community Renewable Agency Achieves Milestones
Updated: Jul 27, 2021
SALT LAKE CITY — Two significant milestones were achieved this month as Utah seeks to transition its electricity mix to cleaner sources and move some cities toward net-100% renewable energy.
Fourteen local governments have now joined the Community Renewable Energy Agency, a brand-new cooperative agency formed under state law in 2019 to achieve net-100% renewable electricity on behalf of participating communities.
“We’re transforming the future to 100% clean electricity with the Community Renewable Energy Program,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “And we’re working in partnership not only with Rocky Mountain Power, but with a group of dedicated local governments to make it happen. I’m thrilled with the achievement of the creation of the agency and look forward to working with our partners to develop significant new renewable energy resources for our state.”
Also this month, the agency’s board held its first regular meeting. The board plans to hire expert consultants, establish working committees, and meet monthly to support the development of a new Community Renewable Energy Program with Utah’s largest electric utility, Rocky Mountain Power.
The formation of the new agency is the result of a monthslong collaboration among staff and elected officials from a handful of eligible communities that passed resolutions in 2019 stating their intention to support net-100% renewable electricity by 2030, thereby making them eligible to participate in the next phases of the Community Renewable Energy Program. This program was enabled by state legislation HB 411.
This year, the group devised and finalized a “governance agreement” as required by state law that establishes a decision-making system and a cost-sharing formula that assigns a larger share of the expected implementation cost to larger communities and a smaller share to smaller ones.
Fourteen of the 23 eligible communities have so far signed the governance agreement, marking their commitment to move forward with the next phases of program implementation. There is a deadline of Jan. 31, 2022, for the remaining nine eligible communities to join.
“Our hot, dry summer and record drought are reminders of the need for progress on renewable energy,” said Jeff Silvestrini, Mayor of Millcreek “Millcreek is proud to be among a group of proactive communities collaborating to make a difference on renewables for our future energy needs in a responsible, cost-effective way.”
“Summit County is thrilled to collaborate with local governments across the state to bring net-100% renewable energy to our communities,” said Glenn Wright, Summit County Council Chair. “The Utah Community Renewable Energy Agency represents the culmination of years of innovative problem solving and hard work. We are committed to working with the public, Rocky Mountain Power, state regulators and representatives from each community on the Community Renewable Energy Agency Board towards a vision of affordable, large-scale, and accessible renewable energy.”
Over the next year, participating communities will work together to design the program in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Power. Playing a role in that process was the intention behind Ogden’s City Council vote July 13 to adopt the governance agreement.
“Having a seat at the table as the design of the renewable energy program gets underway was a critical decision point for the Ogden City Council,” Vice Chair Marcia White said. “We hope with the partnership from the Weber State University’s Energy and Sustainability Office, the resulting program will be the right fit for Ogden residents.”
The participating communities, through the Community Renewable Energy Agency, aim to jointly submit a program application with Rocky Mountain Power to state regulators this coming winter or spring. If approved by the Utah Public Service Commission, the program will provide a new default net-100% renewable electricity option for all residents and businesses located in participating communities.
Before a new program begins, eligible communities will need to pass an ordinance to finalize their participation and all customers in participating communities will be given the choice to opt out, either two months before the program begins, or within three billing cycles after.