Scramble is on for alternative energy around West
Utah officials fielding 15 proposals for geothermal, solar, salt-cavern projects
Utah also is quickly adding wind farms. First Wind, based in Newton, Mass., is erecting 97 turbines in Utah's west desert, near Milford. It's Utah's second commercial wind farm; another project catches winds that blow down Spanish Fork Canyon, near Provo, like clockwork at night.
Another half-dozen wind farms are in the application stage at Utah's trust-lands administration.
The agency, meanwhile, has awarded a lease to Access Solar Ltd. of India, a manufacturer of solar modules, for a utility-scale project near Beryl in the state's southwest corner. Five other solar farms are in the application stage.
"It's a healthy new business opportunity for us," said Andrews, chief lawyer for the trust-lands agency, which manages assets worth nearly $100 million. It still gets most of its money from oil and gas leasing.
Across the West, many energy companies are capitalizing on state mandates for alternative energy. Nowhere is the demand greater than in California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order last month requiring utilities to obtain a third of their power from renewable sources by 2020.
"As long as California wants energy that's not coal or oil, there's going to be this boutique energy industry," said Dave Hebertson, secretary for the Western States Land Commissioners' Association. "But it's going to take years to develop it."
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