Logan’s Renewable Energy and Conservation Advisory Board presented an energy conservation road map this week recommending that 50 percent of Logan’s energy come from renewable sources by 2030.
Matt Perry, RECAB vice chair and technical product manager at Campbell Scientific, presented the report to the Logan Municipal Council on Tuesday. Perry said renewable energy is a fast-growing market that is becoming cheaper and more cost stable every year.
“We’re seeing case after case where renewable energy is actually the cheapest form of electricity available in the U.S.” Perry said to the municipal council members.
After listing corporations, cities and countries that have made pledges to move to 100 percent renewable energy, Perry said there are three steps in moving to renewable energy: improving energy efficiency, offering renewables to customers and recommending new business models.
He said the lowest hanging fruit for reducing energy consumption is making current assets more efficient. The roadmap recommends that all city-owned buildings undergo an energy-efficiency audit and any new municipal buildings be built to a minimum LEED silver status.
With a goal of moving to 50 percent renewable energy — including solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric — by 2030, Perry said it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“We’re proposing taking a metered approach so that it gives the utility and it gives us time to adapt, learn and modernize,” Perry said.
Emily Malik, Logan conservation coordinator, said the energy conservation roadmap is a living document that can constantly be updated to provide the Logan Municipal Council with the most current information.
RECAB, Malik said, is made up of professors and students from USU, two Logan Municipal Council members, local business leaders, nonprofit employees and citizens who have an interest in renewable energy.
“It’s a really well-educated group of individuals who are concerned about renewable energy, and they’ve put a lot of thought and a lot of work into this document,” Malik said.
As a council advisory board, they are charged with informing the council on how to make decisions on renewable energy. RECAB was established in 2007 in response to Logan’s decision to gradually divest from coal.
Logan Municipal Council Chair Holly Daines said the tentative plan is to hold a workshop item on the road map in August or September to further examine the proposal.
Daines said she thinks Logan should move in the renewable energy direction as much as possible while also guaranteeing that residents have reliable power. She said there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
“It listed goals, but I didn’t see a lot of specifics in the plan about how we might achieve the goal,” Daines said. “That’s what I’d be interested in discussing.”
In terms of feasibility, Logan Light and Power Director Mark Montgomery said reaching 50 percent renewable by 2030 is “a pretty good goal.”
“I think it’s high enough to really make us stretch,” Montgomery said
He said Logan city’s current power profile uses between 25 and 30 percent renewable energy from hydropower, wind and solar. Montgomery pointed to a few obstacles in expanding renewable power.
“The most common renewable energy that’s available is solar and wind — and, frankly, the sun doesn’t shine all the time and the wind doesn’t blow all the time,” he said.
In addition to the intermittent nature of wind and solar, Montgomery said hydropower is hard to develop because it’s “almost impossible” to get a permit for a dam.
With a lot of money and research going into renewable energy, Montgomery said he expects technological advances to happen more rapidly in the coming years which could make renewable energy cheaper and more reliable.