How Much Money Does Renewable Energy Make for Utah’s Rural Economy?

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A Colorado-based conservative organization that promotes the West says political “law” must own environmental problems, identify solutions, and better promote how real change transforms the energy economy.

To that end, The Western Way released a report it commissioned that shows how much renewable energy is growing in Utah, contributing $ 5.3 billion to economic output in rural areas of the United States. State in recent years.

While oil and gas remains the dominant energy sector in the state of Beehive, Utah ranks No. 10 in the country in solar power generation capacity, with 1,525 megawatts installed and more to come.

“We’ve known for some time that a dramatic shift is happening with the transition to a new energy, but I don’t think anyone knew it had a $ 5.3 billion economic impact in Utah,” he said. said Senate Speaker Stuart Adams, R-Layton. “The fact that construction and maintenance workers have passed 9,000 is impressive. “

Adams was reacting to the recently released report, “The Economic Benefits of Utah’s Rural Renewable Energy Industry”, which examined the impacts of 31 projects in 11 rural Utah counties.

The projects analyzed represent 2,275 megawatts of nominal capacity from solar, wind and geothermal projects.

Utah, in fact, is third in the country for geothermal energy and is a pioneer in developing new technologies that could make this natural resource more accessible worldwide through a demonstration project.

Here are some key points the report highlights about renewable energy in Utah:

  • $ 4.1 billion in construction and investment with 4,638 full-time construction jobs.
  • $ 24.6 million paid in annual property taxes to local governments.
  • $ 6.3 million in annual lease payments to ranchers, farmers and other landowners.

The figures are derived from these 31 projects over a period from 2007 to 2023, including five new ones that are in development or under construction.

Utah is echoing an established rhythm nationally and globally as well.

The International Energy Administration, with 30 member countries, pointed out that in 2020, the addition of renewable energy increased by 45% worldwide to reach almost 280 gigawatts, the largest annual increase since 1999. .

He added that high-capacity additions have become the “new normal” in projects in 2021 and are expected to come online next year, accounting for 90% of new electric capacity across the world.

Utah’s high elevation and abundance of sunshine make it an ideal location for solar development, with power generation from all facilities accounting for 58% of the state’s renewable generation. It is 30 times larger today than it was just six years ago.

Representative Steve Handy, R-Layton, co-chair of the Legislative Assembly’s Clean Air Caucus, got to know The Western Way through advice and said the report highlights the economic benefits Utah derives from development rapid renewable energy.

“When it comes to wind, solar and geothermal energy, money and markets are moving together in impressive and meaningful ways, and the positive impact of these projects in Utah will continue at breakneck speed,” did he declare.

This rapid deployment of renewable energies has raised concerns about the need for “smart” development due to the amount of land needed and what happens to end-of-life materials.

The World Bank predicts an astronomical need for rare earth minerals and other materials to support renewable energy and has said effective regulations must be in place to promote careful management of the environment.

In January, under the Trump administration, the US Environmental Protection Agency warned of the extreme amount of global waste generated by solar farms reaching their end of life, but this backgrounder was subsequently withdrawn by President Joe Biden’s administration after taking office amid calls that he was inaccurate.

As clean energy development takes off in rural Utah, regulators that include state agencies and county commissioners are ensuring that management agreements are in place to protect landscapes.

This new report, an expert said, highlights the “rural renaissance” happening in Utah in terms of investments in renewable energy and monetary impacts on local jobs and tax revenues.

“This report should give policymakers in states, counties and cities confidence that local projects will benefit their neighbors and communities,” said Edwin Stafford, professor of marketing at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business from Utah State University.


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