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Advancing Utah's Energy Future

Utah embraces trio of renewable energy firsts

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Amy Jo O’Donoghue – The Deseret News

The direct current charging station has a 480-volt rate that is able to charge in 10 to 40 minutes and is a key step along the way to boosting the infrastructure for electric vehicle owners, McAdams said.

Earlier in the week, Scatec Solar announced plans to start construction later this year on an 80-megawatt solar plant in Iron County — a first in that area. When complete, it will deliver power to PacifiCorp and be the state’s largest commercial solar field.

And Wednesday, Utah Clean Energy was picked by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to operate one of six new regional wind energy resource centers in the nation.

In the case of the local nonprofit advocacy organization, it will operate the Four Corners Wind Resource Center, guiding a consortium of industry, government and other groups to promote development of wind energy resources against a best-practices backdrop.

The hat trick in renewable energy signals a new momentum for some.

“This says to me that market forces are moving forward,” said Samantha Mary Julian, director of theUtah Office of Energy Development. “We have been seeing one activity after the other. It is really cool and exciting. Utah is starting to take hold of renewable energy efficiencies and clean transportation.”

Julian’s office has been an integral partner in these efforts and worked with Wisconsin-based ABB to secure the charging station at the Salt Lake County Government Building, 2001 S. State, and two others slated to come online in the downtown area near The Leonardo.

The Utah Office of Energy Department is also a state partner for Utah Clean Energy’s wind resource center, which is on tap to launch in May.

Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy, said the center will serve the southwest region, delivering information on challenges facing wind development, educating communities and policymakers and working to overcome cross-boundary issues.

“By providing fact-based information on wind energy development, the Four Corners Wind Resource Center will ensure that stakeholders and decision-makers understand the technology, costs, impacts and benefits of adding wind energy to their portfolios and communities,” Wright said.

“Our goal is to make wind energy more affordable and accessible, while ensuring that decision-makers at all levels have the information they need to make sound decisions,” she said.

On the solar front, a project delayed by the economy’s nosedive in 2009 is now moving forward in Iron County. The Utah Red Hills Renewable Energy Park will generate 210 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power 18,500 homes.

Scatec Solar inked a 20-year power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp, which means Utah customers will be among the beneficiaries of the solar-delivered power. (…)

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