SALT LAKE CITY — The premise is simple: when everyone takes a small step together, the impact can be momentous. Twenty years ago, it was this idea that built Blue Sky — a customer-powered, opt-in program created by Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, that helps local residents, small businesses, and municipalities take action to support renewable energy and environmental stewardship in their communities and throughout the West.
As Blue Sky celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, program participants across PacifiCorp’s six states have supported 9.2 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy (enough to power around 938,000 homes for one year). Additionally, Rocky Mountain Power Blue Sky participants have helped support 160 community-based renewable energy projects for deserving local organizations.
“Blue Sky celebrates the power of community and the real change that comes from neighbors helping neighbors. Whether it’s new solar panels going up at a community center or a local wind project coming on-line, we are growing sustainable, renewable energy for generations to come," said Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO, Rocky Mountain Power. "For 20 years, our customers have come together to support renewable energy and our communities, and it’s remarkable to see the tremendous difference their support has made.”
Launched in the spring of 2000, Blue Sky allows customers to match their energy usage with the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs). It’s a simple way for participants to support new renewable energy in the West, above and beyond Rocky Mountain Power’s substantial and growing commitment to renewables.
Blue Sky is currently more than 135,000 participants strong, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory rankings, one of the top five utility programs of its kind based on most participants and most renewable energy supported. For many cities and counties, Blue Sky offers a tangible way to meet local sustainability and climate action goals.
In Utah, approximately 50,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers take part in Blue Sky, and the number continues to grow each year. To participate, customers select the amount of renewable energy they want to support, then pay that extra amount on their monthly bill, starting at $1.95 per month. In addition to supporting clean energy to offset their energy use at home or work, participants also support community-based renewable energy projects for local nonprofits, schools and civic groups, and the development of new utility-scale renewable energy facilities.
One of the newest community projects is a solar installation that will help to power Boys & Girls Clubs of Salt Lake’s brand-new Spence Eccles Club, which serves Salt Lake City's Marmalade and Capitol West neighborhoods. The organization received a $199,000 grant funded by Blue Sky participants to add a 92.5-kilowatt solar array to the club's roof.
The project is expected to help trim the Boys & Girls Club’s electrical costs by 50 percent per square foot for the new larger building, saving approximately $20,000 each year. The savings will help the club divert more resources to serving local students and their families through after-school and summer programs. Boys & Girls Club offers important opportunities for at-risk and underserved youth. This includes a curriculum which teaches valuable skills in the STEAM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, arts and math – including lessons in renewable energy, and access to a fully-equipped computer lab and technology center. The club also provides homework help, character building activites, nutritious meals and snacks, outdoor activities and a full-size gym.
"We are grateful to Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky participants for the solar installation,” said LeAnn Saldivar, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Salt Lake. “Solar energy was identified as a key component of this new facility as a means of reducing operating expenses and limiting the facility’s environmental footprint. It also offers a great teaching tool to Club members, their families and the community."
Rocky Mountain Power customers are invited to celebrate Utah's communities and renewable power projects throughout the year and learn more about Blue Sky by visiting www.rockymountainpower.net/bluesky.