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John Hollenhorst ReportingPark City and three nearby ski resorts announced a major energy initiative today. They're putting money on the line to make sure they get electricity that comes from wind.
There's still only a small percentage of Utahns who voluntarily pay extra for electricity to support environmentally-friendly wind power instead of the fossil fuels that are burned here. But the idea is building momentum. And today's announcement is the biggest commitment yet for wind power in Utah.
Utah doesn't have any wind farms, like the two big ones in Wyoming --one in operation, another under construction. But Utah is a growing market for the electricity Wyoming's wind generates.
The latest big buyer is Park City. The city council has now agreed that 7.5 percent of its electricity will come from wind. Three resorts, Deer Valley, The Canyons, Park City Mountain Resort have committed to six percent. That means they'll cumulatively pay Utah Power about 2400 dollars extra each month as a wind-power premium. At a joint news conference, officials challenged Park City residents to make similar commitments in their homes and businesses.
Dana Wiliams, Park City Mayor: "This is just the beginning of a program that we hope is embraced by a large part of our community. The environmental benefits are huge."
In fact, the benefits are astonishing simply because electricity from coal is so much more polluting. Just from the commitment made today, carbon-dioxide emissions will drop by almost two thousand tons a year. It's the equivalent of planting 730 acres of forest each year to recycle the carbon dioxide.
Bob Wheaton, President, Deer Valley Resort: "When you look at those kind of numbers, you kind of, uhhh, wakes you up a little bit. So it's a great program."
Sarah Wright, Utah Wind Power Campaign: "We're seeing clean energy move into a sort of clean energy ethic, similar to recycling."
Park City is actually in a competition with the town of Moab, which has already won a national award for its commitment to wind energy.
Sarah Wright, Utah Wind Power Campaign: "My vision is to see both communities win. Because if both communities win then we're all winners, with a cleaner and more sustainable energy supply."
There's another way of looking at today's announcement. It saves so much pollution, it's the equivalent of reducing automobile driving by almost four million miles each year. In theory that means healthier air to breathe and less global warming.