Salt Lake Chamber releases a business vision for Utah’s energy future

The Salt Lake Chamber, with assistance from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and R&R Partners, has released a business vision for the state’s energy future. Utah’s business community envisions an energy future that places Utah at the center of the nation’s energy transition by harmonizing and balancing environmental and economic progress to ensure a low-carbon energy future that remains affordable, reliable and sustainable. 

“A strong economy for future generations will require strategic planning for our energy today and the transition of tomorrow,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber. “Utah possesses many advantages that will help it lead out, including a diverse energy portfolio, mineral assets, strong business and community leadership, an innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem, and a culture of getting things done. The business community supports an energy future where environmental protection and economic progress work in harmony to ensure a low-carbon future that remains affordable, reliable and sustainable.”

This vision will set Utah apart from other states and one that can act as a model for the nation’s energy transition, in addition to highlighting positive things moving us in the right direction, such as major renewable energy projects and innovation investment. 

Key findings include:

  • Utah Positioned to Lead. Utah possesses unique energy advantages that will help the state lead out on environmental, energy, and economic progress.
  • Utah’s energy transition must balance affordability, reliability and sustainability. Managing Utah’s growth will require that environmental protection and economic progress work in harmony.
  • Incentives Preferred Over Regulations. The business community favors an energy transition that is market-driven and pragmatic, spurred by incentives and not only by government regulation. 

“I appreciate the Chamber and the Gardner Policy Institute bringing the voice of business to the climate risk discussion and to what Utah’s energy future should look like,” said Scott Anderson, president and CEO, Zions Bank. “Utahns have recently identified water conservation and air quality as among the most important issues facing our state. Government should not and cannot respond to these issues alone. Businesses must be involved and lead out on these critical issues. As a business person in Utah, I see climate change and the energy transition as an economic opportunity that will benefit our economy, protect our environment and preserve our health. It can be and should be a win-win for everyone. But there is urgency for cooperation among business, government and individual consumers, one that is driven by risk, opportunity and responsibility.”

Of particular interest will be non-fuel mineral assets because of their importance to energy storage and a world rapidly transitioning to electric vehicles. Six major energy projects, including nuclear and hydrogen, will benefit the Beehive State over the next two decades, even as three coal-fired powerplants close and major refineries produce at capacity.

“It is imperative to have the business community engaging in the energy discussion,” said Steven Ridge, Vice President & General Manager – Western Gas Distribution of Dominion Energy. Utahns are fortunate to have leaders in Utah working to progress energy innovation, environmental efforts, and economic development.” 

The Business Vision is the outcome of 11 focus groups with college and university students, members of the Utah Legislature, and business representatives from the following sectors: agriculture and food, banking, energy and minerals, health care, hospitality and tourism, real estate and construction, technology, and transportation. The focus group discussions were on how Utah’s transitioning energy industry will affect various Utah business sectors.

“Utah’s energy future will require a diversified approach to meet our environmental and economic needs,” said Gardner Institute Senior Energy Analyst Thomas Holst. “This report represents a pivotal research step in meeting those needs by bringing together business and community leaders in a way that will propel our state to the forefront of ensuring the U.S. has an affordable and sustainable energy future.”

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