The city of Moab joined 23 communities across the nation, including Salt Lake City and Park City, to a commitment of 100 percent renewable power sources by 2035.
Renewable power not only decreases the effects of climate change that threaten tourism revenue in Moab, it is also a prudent economic strategy. Moab City Council Member Kalen Jones said large solar operations will have similar costs to fossil fuel power production, due to extensive availability of public lands and an easy permitting process.
“The overall trend as we address air quality issues, and overall impacts of fossil fuels is for the cost of those to go up," Jones said. "We actually think that the economic benefits of moving ourselves, and hopefully the grid as a whole, toward renewable will also be the best economic choice as well as the environmental one.”
The first steps toward a renewable energy future include hiring a full-time sustainability director and collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to assess how much energy is currently used, and how much could be conserved through increased efficiency.
Moab is working with other cities in Utah and Rocky Mountain Power to meet renewable energy goals. Rocky Mountain Power is in the process of phasing out small grant programs for individual roof top solar panels while it focuses on developing utility-scale solar panels. Moab would like to create a similar small grant program while ensuring households at all income levels receive the benefits of renewable power.
“We might also look at doing community scale solar that’s specifically dedicated toward lower income households," Jones said. " Affordable housing is a big deal here, so how affordable housing is, is a function not just of the rent, or mortgage payment, but also other housing costs including utilities.”