LEHI — As energy costs increase and the public looks for ways to cut back and conserve, municipalities and local power companies need to be ready to help, city officials attending the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems 12th annual member conference were told Tuesday.

The goal of the conference, held at Thanksgiving Point, was to provide the representatives with information on how to make the best-informed decisions for their local energy needs as they attempt to become more efficient and use renewable resources.

"Behavior is really what drives the things we do, and education is a big part of understanding what your behavior is," UAMPS general manager Doug Hunter told the audience. "So educating yourselves and understanding what is driving our behavior and what other options we have is a big part of efficiency."

UAMPS provides comprehensive wholesale electric energy, as a nonprofit, to community-owned power systems throughout Utah, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon.

The group this week heard presentations from energy experts, as well as a panel of city and district power-company representatives.

Dan Stireman of Murray said his city's landfill-gas project has been a success. Murray partnered with a local landfill and began using methane gas, which is released from the garbage as it sits in the landfill. In most landfills, the methane releases into the atmosphere, but Murray is generating annual environmental benefits from the renewable resource that are equivalent to planting 90,000 acres of forest or offsetting the use of 1,600 rail cars of coal.

"What this project does is not only make electricity, but it is actually helping clean the air in the Salt Lake Valley," Stireman said.

Rene Fleming, of St. George, said her city has begun offering rebates for energy-efficient air conditioners, attic-insulation upgrades and variable-speed swimming-pool pumps. The city also is considering a landfill-gas project and is working on a proposed solar farm, which Fleming hopes will begin construction in January 2009.

Dennis Strong of the State Division of Water Resources and Ron Thompson from the Washington County Water Conservancy District discussed a future Glen Canyon Pipeline. Both strongly support the pipeline that would bring water from Lake Powell to Washington, Iron and Kane counties.

Thompson pointed out that the Washington County area had only 13,000 residents in 1970. It now has more than 133,000, and growth continues even during the nation's mortgage crisis.

The proposed pipeline has been criticized because of the uncertainty of future water flow and the cost of completing the project. But Thompson said that according to state predictions, if nothing changes, Washington County could risk running out of water by 2020. When asked if he thought the issue should come before the citizens in a vote, Thompson said he is not ruling out the idea of a vote, but it is still premature.


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