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Guest opinion: Stay the course, Ogden, on Community Renewable Energy Program

By Steve Handy - | Sep 22, 2023

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Steve Handy

Famed American and international architect Daniel H. Burnham of the last century, known for his Chicago skyscrapers and master plans for cities such as Chicago, is also known for this quote: “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.”

I have followed closely over the past several weeks the exchanges on these pages about the challenges and merits of Ogden’s involvement in the Community Renewable Energy Program.

Sometimes referred to by its bill number in the Utah Legislature’s 2019 session, I know a little about H.B. 411 Community Renewable Energy Amendments, as I was the chief sponsor while serving in the Utah House of Representatives. While no longer an elected official, I am as proud of this legislation as anything else I was involved in and am following closely its implementation.

This has been hard, because it plows new ground, and that’s why it was disconcerting to read David Willis’ out-of-left-field guest commentary on Aug. 31, disparaging the initiative without the benefit of background or real facts.

Do we all want a cleaner, less carbon-intensive energy future? Of course. But do we also want our energy to be reliable and affordable. Yes, again!

I was heartened by Ogden Councilwoman Angela Choberka‘s defense of CREP on Sept. 9-10. Readers and voters and other council members should pay heed to her perspective. She’s a member of the executive committee of Utah Renewable Communities, the entity formed to negotiate with Rocky Mountain Power and implement the program with the goals of offering customers choice and to do it in an affordable way. Kudos to her!

Also, Eli Davis on Sept. 12, weighed in. He said that CREP provides not only affordable choice, but also the opportunity to address carbon emissions.

Finally, prominent Ogden businessman George Hall wrote on Sept. 18 that informed Ogden citizens and voters are in favor of CREP, and they should be.

Writers have commented on the so-called “Opt-Out Provision” and I know from firsthand involvement that we took great pains to ensure that consumers of all income levels were protected.

When it passed, I was interviewed by media outlets all over the country and was invited by the U.S. Department of Energy to come to Washington, D.C., to provide additional insights. It was something new, something out-of-the-box, something desirable.

I commend the elected officials and other stakeholders for their stick-to-itiveness in spite of working through a pandemic, inflation and supply chain challenges. They are close to signing the contract with Rocky Mountain Power, which also deserves high praise for working with the 18 or so cities involved and listening to their customers in order to achieve the laudable goal of 100% net renewable electricity by 2030.

All involved “have made no little plans.” Let’s please stay the course. Current and future generations will be grateful for all of the herculean efforts over the past almost five years to address in thoughtful and creative ways some of the great challenges of our times.

Steve Handy is a resident of Layton and a former Utah Legislator. He works currently in the policy areas of new energy and is a sought-after speaker on topics of energy policy and bi-partisan approaches.


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