No state feels the effect of air pollution and localized—climate change like Utah. Every year, every Utah resident has to deal with winter inversions and increased levels of air pollution and particulates. The state’s closed system (because of inversion) gives it a glimpse of the effects of man-made pollution on a smaller scale. Utah aims to reduce — and eventually eliminate its pollution with green measures. Solar energy, greener buildings, and electric cars are some of its solutions.
Starting at Home
Even with one of the lowest electricity costs in the nation — Utah is still among the top states when it comes to solar-powered homes. While most homes adopt solar technology for environmental reasons, the dropping prices of solar panels have allowed others to go solar for financial reasons. Solar panels are lifetime investments — lasting 35-45 years before any serious (more than 20 percent) performance decline. A normal Utah home will need a 6-kW solar energy system to meet morning demands and produce a little extra to make up for nighttime electrical consumption. With federal tax incentives (covering 26 percent of the purchase price and installation cost) and Utah’s solar incentives ($1,600 or 25 percent, whichever is lower) — a 6-kW system would cost you less than $10,000. With a good financial plan, you’ll only be paying around $100 a month — which is just a few dollars extra considering your savings on your electric bill. After 10 years, you’ll still have 25-35 years of free electricity.
Businesses Need to Pitch In
The Utah government has expressed its drive for greener buildings since 2008. After the UN’s 68th Civil Society Conference in Salt Lake City on August 2019 — the push might soon include private commercial establishments, as well. Green buildings can be built using smart glass windows. These windows can change from clear to dark with a press of a button, allowing natural light to enter in the morning and shutting it out when the temperature gets too hot. Commercial solar panels at the roof or in strategic locations will reduce a building’s electrical consumption and solar panels that can function like a building’s windows are already in development. Integrated monitoring systems can track the number of people inside a given area and maximize cooling and heating efficiency. These green measures are cost-effective and will hasten the state’s efforts to be carbon neutral by 2040.
American drivers spend more than $3,000 a year on fuel — fuel that sends tons of carbon into the atmosphere. While residents from other states barely feel the effects of air pollution, Utahns (Utahans) can barely leave their houses and are getting sick during winter inversions. Electric vehicles have zero carbon emissions and they cost a fraction of the cost of fuel to charge. Electric cars are so popular in Utah, the government has imposed a road-user charge program for electric vehicles because the gas guzzlers are becoming too few for the state to maintain roads with just the gas tax.
Utah is becoming one of the greenest states in the nation — especially when it comes to solar technology and electric vehicles. With the state’s drive for greener buildings, its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040 is close at hand.