Cache Valley water and energy projects to see millions in improvements in 2024

Northern Utah’s state lawmakers outlined how bills they passed during the 2024 legislative session will impact local communities.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Chris Wilson, R-Logan, at the Capitol building in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 20, 2023. Wilson and other northern Utah lawmakers said the 2024 legislative session led to water and energy infrastructure improvements for this year.

Logan • Northern Utah lawmakers say they’re especially proud of their efforts this legislative session to shore up Utah water infrastructure, like setting guidelines for mineral extraction in the Great Salt Lake and studying the water flowing beneath Cache County.

Lawmakers representing northern Utah shared their thoughts on the 2024 legislative session during a breakfast event hosted by the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce.

During the event, Sen. Chris Wilson, R-Logan, said he was able to secure over $500,000 in funds for a study on Cache Valley’s groundwater, which was last done in 1999. The funding will fulfill a request that local officials made to the state last year.

“We’ll be able to identify how much is in our aquifers, our groundwater in Cache Valley,” Wilson told a conference room of Cache Valley constituents at Bridgerland Technical College’s west campus in Logan. “It will give us a better idea of what water we have available for future growth here in the valley.”

The Logan senator was also credited with securing $5 million for the Cache Valley Transit District, according to the transit district’s CEO and general manager Todd Beutler. The transit district began building its new transit station and offices last year without knowing if they’d have the money to finish it.

Wilson said he secured $1 million for a new water line in the growing city of Hyde Park. Wilson also touted his income tax bill that reduced Utah’s income tax from 4.65% to 4.55%, saying it’s the fourth straight year Utah lawmakers have passed a tax cut.

Rep. Casey Snider, R-Paradise, told The Salt Lake Tribune one of his accomplishments of the session was passing HB 453, which created state guidelines for mineral extraction from the Great Salt Lake and limited the amount of water that mineral companies can extract from the drying body of water. Snider said last month the Great Salt Lake has previously been “the Wild West” for mineral extraction. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB 453 into law Tuesday.

“What I’m most proud of in terms of that bill, is while it started out fairly contentious and was a bit of a knockdown, drag out to get to the end — at the end, everybody came to a position of support,” Snider said.

Tremonton Republican Sen. Scott Sandall said bills regarding Utah’s power supply and keeping coal-fired power plants open were two notable accomplishments. He said the state must keep coal as a key source of power until other energy sources like nuclear or geothermal become more prevalent.

“But we see that in a 30-year timeframe at earliest, and until then, we’re going to have to maintain a 24/7 baseload power of coal generation,” Sandall said.

That timeline is disputed by members of Utah Clean Energy, a nonprofit that encourages expanding renewable energy in the Beehive State.

The group praised Rocky Mountain Power’s announcement last year it would shift away from coal and toward renewable energy as part of its 20-year roadmap to keep up with power demands in Utah. The plan called for coal-fired power plants to be retired by 2032, but recent efforts by lawmakers are trying to keep the plants open.

“If we sit back and delay, other states with more insightful energy policy will build innovative resources, and when Utah’s coal plants do retire, we will ironically be dependent on our neighboring states,” said Logan Mitchell, the nonprofit’s climate scientist, in a statement. “The Legislature’s plan takes Utah away from an all-of-the-above approach, and will decrease Utah’s energy independence.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *