The Building the Clean Energy Economy Report for Utah (2010) estimated that if the state pursues the goal of increasing energy efficiency by 20% (by 2015) and getting 20% of its electricity form renewables by 2025 that nearly 7,000 net new ongoing jobs will be created in the state by 2020; along with $310 million in net new annual earnings, and a $300 million increase in the states gross domestic product.
The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Utah reported 579 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 5,199 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Utah cleantech sector shrunk by 12.4 % compared with a 10.8% growth in overall employment for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Utah saw around $27 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.
Renewable Energy Jobs in Utah
Currently Utah gets around 10% of its electric power — the power actually consumed in the state — from large hydro and an additional 4% from other renewable sources (mostly wind). In 2009 there were 38 renewable energy companies in Utah and 512 people were directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy jobs.
Approved in the 2009 legislative session, Utah’s Renewable Energy Development Incentive program offers up to 100% tax rebates to companies that develop commercial-scale renewable energy generation projects, such as wind farms. The incentive went into effect this summer, and Utah has already had a great deal of interest from large wind producers.
According to the UREZ report, Utah’s geothermal electricity technical potential is over 2,100 MW, which includes 754 MW from identified sites. Utah currently is home to four operating geothermal energy plants. Another 365 MW of geothermal power projects are being considered by various developers. As an example of how fast promising geothermal resources can be ramped up, in 2008, Raser Technology, Inc. constructed a 10 MW geothermal power plant in Beaver County, Utah in only six months using a new proprietary modular power plant design.
According to the UREZ Report, Utah has twelve wind sites with expected gross capacity factors of at least 30% (which is economically viable in the wind industry). These sites account for 1,830 MW or greater generating capacity.
The Milford Wind Corridor project is the largest wind project in the state, at 203.5 MW, and was commissioned in late 2009. When the second phase is complete, the capacity will increase to 305.5 MW and will provide 18 permanent positions.
Salt Lake City became one of the first Solar America Cities in the country, as recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy, and has established a goal of building at least 10 MW of new solar PV installations in the government, commercial, industrial, and residential sectors by 2015.
The North America division of Oslo-based Scatec Solar plans to invest up to $500 million in a solar PV project near Cedar City, Utah, which will cover 650 acres of private land in Iron County. The project is scheduled to go online in 2013, eventually reaching an installed capacity of 100 MW. It will employ 60 to 85 construction workers for each phase of the project and is expected to provide 12 permanent positions.
Smart Grid, Green Building and Energy Efficiency Jobs in Utah
The state seems intent on pursuing an energy efficiency goal of 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2015. Doing so will not only save money currently spent on energy, but will lead to new green jobs in such areas as energy retrofits and efficient HVAC systems.
There are currently 18 LEED certified buildings in the state and new state buildings are to be built to LEED Silver standards.
The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), which is based in Salt Lake City will receive $53.9 million of the smart grid funding for its Western Interconnection Synchrophasor Program (WISP). The funding will be used across the west in 14 states, including Utah. The federal funding from the Smart Grid Investment Grant initiative will be leveraged 1:1 with matching dollars from utility companies, for a total project estimated at $107.8 million.