Energy Resilience 4

Pictured is a new solar array at Hill Air Force Base in December 2018. 

OGDEN — The City Council has taken the first step in a lengthy, multiphase process that could eventually result in Ogden’s participation in Utah’s Community Renewable Energy Act.

On Tuesday night, the council voted 5-2 to adopt a resolution that establishes a city-wide goal to transition to net 100% renewable energy by 2030. The measure also signals the city’s intent to consider the CREA as the channel to reach that goal.

Also known as House Bill 411, the CREA is the ambitious clean-energy program adopted by the Utah Legislature during 2019’s General Session. The bill calls for Utah cities that choose to participate to move to a net 100% electric energy use from renewable resources by 2030.

To be a part of the program, cities must adopt a resolution (like the one Ogden adopted Tuesday), form an initial agreement with Rocky Mountain Power to develop program guidelines, and submit an application to the Utah Public Service Commission, the body that will regulate the act.

Ogden City Council Policy Analyst Amy Mabey said the PSC will develop rules that will address issues like customer termination fees, electricity rates and the process for procuring renewable energy resources.

Rocky Mountain Power will develop the renewable energy resources that communities will use. The power company will hold the option to own any of the new resources that are acquired as part of the program. Rocky Mountain must have an estimated number to work from to establish the amount of energy resources to develop the program and new rates. If Ogden opts into the program, the utility will compile a year’s worth of usage data for the city. If the city ultimately joins the program, individual residents would be allowed to opt out.

Mabey said Tuesday’s action allows the city to enter into the H.B. 411 study phase, where Ogden officials will scrutinize things like projected energy rates and possible costs associated with participating in the program. Mabey said adoption of the resolution doesn’t commit the city to participate in the full program. If, as they move along in the study process, the council decides H.B. 411 isn’t a fit, they could revise their goal or seek to meet it through different avenues, Mabey said.

The council has discussed H.B. 411 at length in several previous work sessions. Unknown costs associated with the program has emerged, far and away, as the biggest concern of the council. Mabey said the cost of study and implementation of the full program is still unknown.

Council members Rich Hyer and Bart Blair voted against the resolution, both citing numerous concerns with the program.

“To me it seems like setting a goal, with the caveat we can get out of it at any time, doesn’t seem like a real goal to me,” Blair said.

Hyer said he’s concerned about the lack of solid information available related to costs and other items, relying too heavily on wind and solar and energy sources and opined that the program may not be within the role of government.

Citizens have made public comments at several council meetings during the city’s review of H.B. 411. The vast majority of those citizens, including the ones who addressed the council Tuesday, have been in favor of Ogden opting in to the program.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!