SLC mayor wants city running on clean energy by 2032

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Mayor Jackie Biskupski made an ambitious announcement on Tuesday, a plan to put all city buildings, street lights and even the Salt Lake International Airport on clean energy by 2032.

At a news conference Tuesday, the mayor said she wanted 50-percent of municipal operations powered by renewable energy by 2020. To accomplish it, Biskupski announced the city would be buying into Rocky Mountain Power's new "Subscriber Solar" program.

"Salt Lake City has committed to purchasing three megawatts of clean solar power through the new solar subscription program," she said. "This commitment is the equivalent of 9,000 solar panels."

Right now, only 6-percent of Salt Lake City's power is based on renewable energy. By investing in Rocky Mountain Power's solar program, the city would double it. The city is also planning to purchase solar panels to go on fire stations throughout the city.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski speaks at a news conference on the city's solar power usage on the roof of the Public Safety Building, which is 100 percent powered by clean energy. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski speaks at a news conference on the city's solar power usage on the roof of the Public Safety Building, which is 100 percent powered by clean energy. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Rocky Mountain Power is building solar fields near Holden, in central Utah as part of its investment into cleaner energy sources. Salt Lake City is one of the first municipalities to sign up.

"Our initial efforts around it have been cities, small commercial," said Cindy Crane, the CEO of Rocky Mountain Power. "We're working with large commercial and then we'll be rolling it out to residential customers."

The cost of Salt Lake City's investment in solar energy to taxpayers is neutral, Biskupski said. That means that the amount city government saves and expends is the same as its existing power bill.

Vicki Bennett, the city's director of sustainability, said switching to more clean energy sources will cut down on pollution.

"We're obviously trying to do it with the least amount of cost, but then you have to decide how you look at the cost," she told FOX 13. "We have air quality issues, there's a large cost to that. There's an economic development cost, there's the cost to people's health."

Crane said Rocky Mountain Power plans to roll out the solar program to individual homes and businesses by June. Some, like Kiito Brewing's Andrew Dasenbrock, acknowledged it would cost him more than a typical power bill.

"In order to not have those people that don't want to participate have their rates go up, those of us who choose to participate pay a slightly extra fee," he said.

Dasenbrock, who has also invested in wind energy, said it's worth it to buy clean power.

"Absolutely," he said. "It's a no-brainer."