Rural commissioners pan out-of-state green energy development

Johan Swanepoel, Adobe Stock

Rocky Mountain Power’s proposed $3.5 billion plan to develop renewable energy in Wyoming and Idaho is drawing criticism from rural Utah county commissioners who want development to happen in the state. They’ve asked Gov. Gary Herbert to intervene.

SALT LAKE CITY — A trio of rural county commissioners is asking Gov. Gary Herbert to exercise his gubernatorial muscle to stop a $3.5 billion proposal to develop green energy infrastructure in Wyoming and Idaho.

The commissioners want Herbert to press Rocky Mountain Power over its “Energy Vision 2020 Initiative” and members of the Public Service Commission, who he appoints, to derail the plan in favor of directing the jobs to Utah.

“It just makes no sense to me,” said Mark Whitney, chairman of the Beaver County Commission. “If (Herbert) is really that strong on his 25,000 rural jobs initiative, he better pound on the table, jump up and down, scream and everything else on the table of Rocky Mountain Power over this.”

In his State of the State address in January, Herbert announced as one of his main priorities the goal of creating 25,000 jobs in rural Utah within four years. He launched the initiative last month at a rural summit in Cedar City, and officials from the governor’s office have been traveling throughout the state to jumpstart the effort, including a stop in Juab County this week.

Whitney, Stan Summers, chairman of the Box Elder County Commission, and Garth “Scooter” Ogden, Sevier County Commission chairman, recently authored an opinion piece in the Desert News urging Herbert to reject the plan to export “millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to other states.”

The jobs initiative, in light of the utility company’s proposal, seems at odds, the piece asserted.

“That is why so many of us are puzzled to learn that our state-regulated electric utility is seeking approval to divert Utah-generated resources to benefit other states, when Utah is so perfectly positioned to fully deploy that same investment and development here at home,” the editorial reads.

Rocky Mountain Power submitted its proposal to the Public Service Commission in July. A hearing is set for Sept. 19 before…

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