Warning: the Utah Department of Commerce and the state’s major electric utility really don’t want you to know the following information, and they will hijack your computer to keep you from getting it:
The administration of Utah’s former Governor Jon M. Huntsman (now U.S. Ambassador to China) commissioned an independent study to figure out how much, if anything, the state could save by switching to alternative, clean forms of energy. Utah currently gets almost all of its energy through fossil fuel combustion, 82% of which uses coal.
It appears the current administration (Gary Herbert) and his coal-burning buddies don’t like what the report had to say:
“This [coal-based] resource mix…results in significant emissions of air pollutants and consumes a large share of Utah’s increasingly valuable water resources. The authors estimate that fossil generation in Utah today:
–consumes about 73,800 acre feet, or 24 billion gallons, of fresh water per year; results in 202 premature deaths per year;
–contributes to 154 hospital visits per year for respiratory injuries, and 175 asthma-related emergency room visits each year.
We estimate that the health and water impacts from Utah fossil generation have a monetary value of between $1.7 and $2.0 billion dollars per year (2008$), or between $36 and $43 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of fossil generation in Utah, a value similar to the direct costs of conventional electricity generation.”
Naturally, at this point, I would include a link to the PDF of the report. But I don’t want to do that to you. Get this: if you surf over to the PDF on the state’s website, a giant pop-up window (disavowing the findings) appears, the rest of the screen goes dark, and there is no way to click out of it. I’m no computer genius, so I had to “ctrl-alt-delete” and restart my laptop just to finish this post. Sheesh.
Executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, Francine Giani, on allegations that they are suppressing the information. “I hardly think that putting it up on our website is burying it,” she says.
Rocky Mountain Power has an even more glib response: “We disagree with the study’s conclusions.”
Utah is sunny, windy, and geothermal-y. Burning coal for electricity and selling most of it to California is short-sighted and unnecessary. Doing so knowing that it is killing its residents and costing them millions of dollars? That’s plain evil.