Coal has always been Utah's primary source of electricity, but that might be about to change. Over the past 10 years (2005-2015), natural gas has grown from about 3% to 20% of Utah's total electricity production. Coal still accounted for 75% of Utah's 2015 electricity production, but that's down from 94% in 2005. This trend is caused by the increase in fracking, which lowers the prices of natural gas.
Hydroelectric dams typically provide between 1% and 2% of Utah's electricity. Geothermal and wind power have both expanded significantly over the past decade in Utah. In 2015 they each provided about 1% of the state's electricity. According to the Solar Energy Information Association, Utah's solar energy generation capacity increased about 500% in 2016. With approximately 1,489 MW currently installed, Utah ranks 6th in the nation for solar energy capacity.
Utah Electricity Prices
Utah has a regulated electricity market, whereby local utility companies set and control electricity prices, generation, and delivery in their service areas.
Fortunately, Utah residents still benefit from lower electricity prices relative to the rest of the country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail price of electricity for Utah residents in December 2016 was 10.68¢ per kWh, which is 1.53¢ below the average U.S. electricity price of 12.21¢ per kWh.
Residential electricity prices are still on the rise in Utah, though, having increased more than 23% over the past 5 years. This trend has led to higher electricity bills for Utah residents, motivating many to switch to renewable energy (i.e. go solar) to save money.
Utah Energy Mix
Net Electricity Generation By Source:
Source: Energy Information Administration, 2016
From 2005-2015, natural gas went from about 3% to 20% of Utah's total electricity production. Over the same period, electricity production from coal fell about 12%.
Utah Energy Sector Employment
According to the Department of Energy, the Utah electric power generation industry employs about 9,650 people. More than half of these jobs are related to solar energy projects. The most common solar jobs in Utah are installers, manufacturers, salespeople, and project managers. Utility-scale solar projects also create hundreds of temporary construction jobs. For example, the Redhills Renewable Energy Park was constructed in 2015 and has a capacity of 104 MW- enough to power 18,500 homes. This solar project created about 120 temporary construction jobs and 22 permanent operations and maintenance positions.
Fun fact: more Americans are employed by renewable energy than coal, oil, and gas combined, despite wind and solar energy only making up 5% of the total U.S. energy mix. According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, solar energy creates over 7 times more jobs than coal or oil per MWh produced. The employment estimates for wind power differ from source to source, but most agree that it also produces more jobs than fossil fuels.
Utah Utility Companies
Some of the largest utility companies in Utah are Rocky Mountain Power, Intermountain Power Agency, and Provo Power. Being in a regulated energy market, these utilities own the entire flow of electricity in their territories and also dictate electricity prices. As such, they are responsible for generating electricity, maintaining infrastructure, delivering electricity, and providing billing to all their residential and business customers across the state.
Rocky Mountain Power
- Subsidiary of PacifiCorp
- Serves approximately 792,000 electric customers in Utah
- Headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT
Intermountain Power Agency
- Provides electricity to 23 publicly-owned electric utilities in Utah
- Formed in 1977
- Owns the Intermountain Power Plant, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the country.
- Serves approximately 32,200 electric customers in Utah
- Formed in 1940
- Largest municipal power system in Utah
Arcadia's Utah Renewable Energy Services
With Arcadia’s clean energy offerings, homeowners and renters across the state can now sign up to reduce their impact, be more energy efficient, and save on their energy bills while keeping their same utility company. Here are three programs currently available to Utah residents:
As an Utah utility customer, you can reduce your impact by matching your home’s electricity usage with renewable energy certificates from wind farms. You can sign up for our 50% Wind Energy plan for free, and begin service with your next utility bill. All you need is your local utility login to link up with Arcadia’s platform and start supporting wind farms each month at no extra cost to you.
We offer a community solar-savings program to homeowners and renters in Utah. No matter where you live, you can subscribe to community solar projects across the country and start saving on your utility bill each month. There aren’t any installations, site visits, or equipment necessary, and if you move, your savings will even move with you.
Zero-down Energy Efficient Products
Our pay-as-you-save energy program enables Utah utility customers to access energy efficient products for $0 down. We will offer LED light bulbs, Wiser Air Smart Thermostats, and other home energy products to help you be more efficient and save on your utility bills. As an Arcadia customer, you can simply pay for your efficient products over time using the energy savings you’ll start seeing each month.