Utah business leaders tour renewable energy sites

Posted at 9:18 PM, Apr 16, 2014

MILFORD, Utah - Salt Lake business owners toured southern Utah on Wednesday, learning about renewable energy.

It’s part of an initiative by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce to show off some of Utah’s natural resources.

The business leaders are construction firms, energy developers, and utility representatives, but they’re all learning the same thing, getting green energy.

“In Utah, we are so strong because we have such breadth across the entire spectrum of energy,” said Salt Lake Chamber executive director Lane Beattie. “You talk about geothermal, and the wind and what’s taking place and all of those and how they can do it.”

The renewable energy tour is a joint effort through the Salt Lake Chamber and the state Office of Energy Development. Director Samantha Julian said as more businesses turn to renewable energy, it’s important to see firsthand how it can benefit a company’s production.

“People didn’t really know if it was going to generate power and how much could it generate, and could it power our communities and our schools,” Julian said. “But it does and it is.”

The Salt Lake Chamber chose Beaver County as the focus of their renewable energy tour because it’s home to some of the largest producing alternative energy plants in the country. And they hope business leaders will take some of the lessons learned here back home and boost the economy throughout Utah.

“Bring the folks that are spending most of their time, and probably a good amount of their dollars in urban areas, doing urban type projects, to come to rural Utah and say, ‘this is where the recession is going to get solved,’” Julian said. “We’re not going to solve it on widgets, we’re going to solve it on energy production.”

Last year, business owners toured conventional energy sites such as coal refineries in the Uintah Basin. Beattie said both tours are eye-opening to the type of industry energy is and how it can help them.

“That just helps to bring the economy up, by bringing in jobs, by bringing in experience, and developing the infrastructure that is required to support all of that,” said Potash Ridge Corporation governmental affairs VP Laura Nelson of the experience. “That then in turn supports these other opportunities for development.”

The excursion also stopped at the Milford High Renewable Energy Fair, an event where students showcase some of their achievements in renewable energy research.