Utah Solar Tour 2010

by Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

Senator Ross RomeroEnergy is the topic of the day, and clean, renewable energy is being promoted at the local, state, and national levels.  Many Americans want new sources of energy that positively affect our atmosphere, our independence, and our pocketbooks.  During the past few years, numerous Utah legislators have sponsored and debated bills designed to shift the focus from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

I would like to invite you and your family, friends, and neighbors to attend this year’s Utah Solar Tour.  Sponsored by the Utah Solar Energy Association (the local nonprofit chapter of the American Solar Energy Society), the 2010 Utah Solar Tour is scheduled for Saturday, September 25, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  This is a FREE public event.

During this event, you will learn about the latest solar technologies and applications.  Professionals will teach you how to install solar equipment at your home or business and what financial incentives are available for doing so.

You will be able to visit homes and businesses using renewable energy from Payson to Logan.  Map out your tour of sites near you for Saturday, September 25, by visiting http://utsolar.org/index.php/solar_tour/overview/.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn everything you ever wanted to know about renewable solar energy.  Join the Utah Solar Energy Association for a solar-powered weekend.

It’s Time to Clear the Air

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

Last month I had the opportunity to hear a presentation regarding Park City, Utah’s effort to track its sustainability numbers.  Energy and water conservation are a couple of ways we can help sustain our communities.  Park City is particularly sensitive to how we treat our environment since it hosts many visitors to ski on its surrounding slopes.  Even slight temperature increases year after year have the potential to reduce snowfall amounts, jeopardizing the ski and tourism industry which will affect our state’s economy whether we ski or not.

Park City’s program was adopted to allow homeowners and businesses to calculate how much energy they are using.   At http://www.parkcitygreen.com, Park City residents can calculate their carbon and water footprints and learn what they can do to reduce their impact on the environment.  There is a carbon calculator, a water calculator, and a waste calculator.  I encourage you to review this website and familiarize yourself with its calculators and the accompanying suggestions for reducing our impact on our environment.  Each person and home doing its share can make a big difference.
Another site to help us clear the air is http://www.utahmomsforcleanair.org.  The site addresses subjects such as engine idling, smarter driving, etc.  It is a helpful reminder for us about what we can do to make a difference, which is especially relevant when we look out our windows at our polluted air. 

Please take a few minutes to visit these sites and consider what you can do to reduce energy consumption and help clear our air so we will live healthier, longer lives.

Listening tour…continued.

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

This past August, the Senate Democrats were invited to join the House Democrats on their Carbon/Emery County weekend excursion hosted by Representative Christine Watkins.  With the aid of Rhoda, the House Minority Assistant, Representative Watkins planned the itinerary for the trip.  Senator Patricia Jones, Senator Luz Robles, and I just tagged along.  Thanks, House Democrats, for inviting us.

Friday evening, we enjoyed a dinner hosted by Representative Watkins and her husband at their home in Miller Creek.  Several county officials attended the dinner and shared a lot of information with us about rural issues important to Carbon and Emery Counties such as mining, water rights, land use, energy development, higher education, etc.  
The next morning, we caravanned to visit several important sites in Carbon and Emery Counties.  First on the agenda was a tour of the Huntington Power Plant, managed and staffed by PacifiCorp.  The plant tour was very educational.  Power production is a complex process and a complex issue affecting every citizen in our state and country.  The Utah coal mining industry and power production industry in these counties employ thousands of Utahns, who in turn, support their families and boost our Utah economy.

Unfortunately, I then had to return to Salt Lake City following the mine tour.   The rest of the group proceeded to the Crandall Canyon Mine Memorial.  The monument honors the lives of six miners and three rescuers who lost their lives in the 2007 mine collapse.  The monument is also a tribute to their families. 

Along with most Utahns, I recall vividly the angst I experienced as the events of the Crandall Canyon Mine tragedy unfolded.  I send my best wishes to the families of the miners and rescuers and to everyone in the community.

The group next had lunch at Huntington Park, and Castle Dale Mayor Neal Peacock was on hand to visit with the group and answer questions.

Then the group visited San Rafael Swell’s Wedge Overlook.  The Wedge Overlook is one of the most beautiful vistas in Utah, overlooking the San Rafael River as it flows through the “Little Grand Canyon.”

This trip provided a great opportunity to visit one of our state’s rural areas and learn about the lives and livelihood of our citizens who reside in Carbon and Emery Counties.  I am glad I was able to make the trip to eastern Utah.  As a legislator, I sometimes have to make decisions on behalf of every citizen in the state, both urban and rural.  This educational experience broadened my view and will enable me to more fully understand important issues in our state.   

Representative Christine Watkins & Husband
Representative Christine Watkins and Husband John

Huntington Power Plant
Huntington Power Plant

The Group
Front Row:  Rep. Chavez-Houck, Sen. Robles, Rep. Watkins & Rep. Moss
Back Row:  Rep. King, Sen. Romero, Rep. Seelig, Rep. Litvack & Rep. Seegmiller

Senator Jones, Mayor Peacock, Senator Romero & Rep. Litvack
Senator Jones, Mayor Peacock, Senator Romero & Representative Litvack

Project New West’s August Summit

Senator Pat Jonesby Senator Patricia Jones
Senate Minority Leader

Americans have always known that actions speak louder than words, and that lesson couldn’t be more true than right here in Utah.  Just look at our history.  When the pioneers began settling Utah in the 19th century, their survival depended on being able to work together, focus on a common goal, and get the essential things done.  While the challenges modern Utahns face are very different from those our forefathers faced, we still confront problems by looking for positive results instead of pleasant rhetoric.

That approach continues to pay dividends.  Recently, Utah was awarded over $14 million by the Department of Energy to begin work on new energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, with another $21 million on the way.  Utah received this grant money because of the ingenuity and practicality of our plan, developed with input from around the state, to tackle renewable energy issues.  The money will increase Utah’s budget for renewable energy products over 100-fold, helping us maintain the pristine beauty of our environment, cut our energy costs, and create jobs here in Utah.  Just a few weeks ago, Utah installed its largest photovoltaic solar panel farm in the state at Hill Air Force Base.

But we’re not resting on our laurels.  Governor Huntsman deserves praise for his cooperation with Interior Secretary Salazar in mapping out areas of the state where new wind and solar projects can begin.  Their efforts are laying the foundation for more jobs, more energy, and a cleaner environment.  These types of commonsense projects, taken up without regard to partisan affiliation, are exactly what our state, our region, and our nation need right now.

The efforts by Governor Huntsman and Secretary Salazar are just a start, however.  We’ll need more mainstream, commonsense solutions if we want to address energy and the myriad of other challenges we currently face.  That’s why in August, leaders from around the Rocky Mountain West will be gathering for an important conference in Denver.  The 2009 Western Conference, hosted by Project New West, will bring together regional leaders to discuss issues ranging from immigration to energy, from the environment to new jobs, from education to infrastructure.

Everyone knows we’re in the middle of tough times.  Our economy is struggling, our health care system is failing, and our environment is under threat.  If we want to solve these problems, we’ve got to do what we as Utahns and Westerners have always done: band together and take on the big challenges, without waiting around for someone to do it for us.  We can’t afford to sit around and wait for Washington to tell us what to do.  That’s why this conference is so important.  It’s an opportunity to find real answers, outside of the Washington spin-zone.

I’ll be there, and I’ll be bringing along Utah’s proud tradition of giving practical, no-nonsense answers to tough questions.  I’ll be focused on doing what works, no matter who comes up with an idea.  And I’ll be looking for strategies we can actually put into action, not just talk about.  I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me as we work to strengthen our state and our region and maybe even to bring our Western solutions to the whole country.