News / Utah / 

Utah's growing energy dilemma

By John Hollenhorst | Posted - Jun. 26, 2011 at 10:46 p.m.


15 photos

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Oil refineries have become a symbol of our energy past. But it is likely oil, gas and coal will continue to play a role in our future too.

Many of the leading experts say without major changes in energy sources, there will be problems every Utahn will notice, including the price at the pump, the air we breathe and even the way we get to work.

If you gulp when your car guzzles, you're not alone.


"It could be drastic if we don't take measure right now. If Utah and even the rest of the country does nothing, the impact will be much greater and it will be much harder to swallow. -Rob Simmons

"Gas prices have caused me to have to buy a new car," said Bountiful resident David Talbot. "I used to drive a truck."

As gas prices hover around the $4 per gallon range, many wish there was another way to get energy.

"We can't continue like this," Talbot said. "I know I can't afford it."

Utah currently has relatively low prices for natural gas and electricity, but energy analyst Rob Simmons of USTAR says it's going to get more expensive in coming decades.

"It could be drastic if we don't take measure right now," Simmons said. "If Utah and even the rest of the country does nothing, the impact will be much greater and it will be much harder to swallow."

Ted Wilson chaired the task force that developed Governor Herbert's 10-year energy plan. He says we rely too much on oil from unstable parts of the world; that and many other factors are pushing us toward a different energy future.


The whole idea that we can just sit with what we have and have $2 gasoline like we've had in the past is not working. We have to have an aggressive approach to our energy future.

–Ted Wilson


Even if you believe most scientists are wrong about global warming, new regulations will likely require cleaner fuels with less carbon. If Utah doesn't adopt such rules, the federal government might -- and California already has.

"If we want to continue to access those markets and sell our energy to those markets, we need to be sensitive to carbon management," Simmons said.

"The whole idea that we can just sit with what we have and have $2 gasoline like we've had in the past is not working," Wilson said. "We have to have an aggressive approach to our energy future."

Some of the future energy sources are frequently talked about, but slow to get off the ground. Wind power, geo- thermal and solar energy are all renewable resources, but they're relatively expensive and not likely to replace traditional fossil fuels anytime soon.

"The majority of Utah's energy economy, as well as the related jobs, are driven by fossil fuels," Simmons said.

Critics of the governor's 10-year plan says the currently proposed options rely far too much on fossil fuels and gives only a gentle push to renewables. However, defenders say the governor's plan is a reasonable compromise between old and new energy sources.

Nevertheless, industry experts are saying changes are coming. In the meantime, the state of Utah is using scientific resources to look beyond ten years.

Email: hollenhorst@ksl.com

Photos

John Hollenhorst

    SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

    Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast