Proposed legislation that would have required big utility companies to provide a percentage of their power from renewable energy sources failed in a Senate committee Friday.
SB173, sponsored by Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, outlines a plan that would require a utility to provide 25 percent of their power output from renewable sources by 2025. The bill also provides options, in the form of energy certificates, to achieve targets and an "off-ramp" clause that allows companies an exclusion if costs become excessive. Financial penalties may also be assessed in the event of a company's failure to meet goals. Municipal power providers are exempt from the requirements.
"All our eggs are in the fossil-fuel based basket," McCoy said. "This puts us on the road to diversifying our energy portfolio."
McCoy noted a similar plan to establish a Renewable Portfolio Standard in Oregon was successfully negotiated with the same corporation that provides most of Utah's power. He also highlighted a successful RPS program in Colorado that achieved its target ahead of schedule.
Senate Majority Whip Sen. Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful, rebutted McCoy's comparison of Utah to other states.
"In Utah we're still hauling clinkers. ... these other states that have these conditions are not as dependent on coal," Eastman said. "These numbers that you've put forth here are really not attainable and there's no science out there that can bring us to that level."
Tim Wagner, director of the Sierra Club's Utah Smart Energy Campaign and a member of Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.'s Blue Ribbon Advisory Council said that Utah
has a more than ample supply of alternative energy sources.
"We do have the available resources and they are cost effective right now," Wagner said. Wagner cited concentrated solar, geothermal and wind as resources that are current options to coal-fired power.
Assistant Majority Whip Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, was uncomfortable with the mandates outlined in McCoy's bill and said that the requirements were just too "stringent" and would overburden the utility companies to which they'd apply.
"We're not dealing with a market, we're dealing with an incumbent monopoly," McCoy said. McCoy added that 26 states have already adopted RPS programs like the one proposed in his bill.The House Business and Labor standing committee declined granting favor to SB173 on a vote of 4-1.