As many states suspend planning on U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan pending litigation, how are businesses and local chamber of commerce chapters responding? During today's OnPoint, Ryan Evans, vice president of business and community relations at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, explains why his organization is encouraging efficiency and clean energy investments, despite Utah's participation in the power plan lawsuit. Evans, who is also an advisory board member of the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, discusses local-level small-business trends on clean energy.
Monica Trauzzi: Hello, and welcome to OnPoint, I'm Monica Trauzzi. With me today is Ryan Evans, vice president of business and community relations at the Salt Lake Chamber. Ryan is also an advisory board member of the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy. Ryan, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Ryan Evans: Thank you for having me.
Monica Trauzzi: Ryan, the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy recently released a series of videos highlighting a broad range of Chamber of Commerce CEOs speaking about how clean energy is benefiting small businesses. What is your chamber doing to encourage clean energy?
Ryan Evans: For probably about eight years, we've been heavily involved in more on the energy efficiency side and then lately more on the clean energy side and it really started around the issue of air quality in Utah. In Utah, we have about 90 percent of the days that are beautiful sunshiny days, but about 15 to 30 days a year we have some air quality challenges, and to help address that, we got into the space of looking at how energy efficiency and smarter energy use could be good for businesses as well as the economy and really what that meant to the bottom line of their business and to the Utah economy as a whole.
Monica Trauzzi: You come from a conservative chamber, why the involvement in the chamber's renovation and clean energy? Kind of interesting.
Ryan Evans: It makes sense. Utah has not only just some unique environmental issues that we do tackle and clean energy is one of those solutions, but at the same time, clean energy's bringing a lot of jobs to the state of Utah. In Utah, we actually have the all-of-the-above mentality. Therefore, we're looking at all and any energy production. Yes, there's still a very vibrant coal and fossil fuel industry in Utah; however, renewables and energy efficiency are part of the solution going forward.
Monica Trauzzi: To that end, Utah has suspended planning on the Clean Power Plan. Your state is also one of the states involved in the lawsuit against EPA. You represent more than 8,000 businesses in Utah. Are the business views you are presenting being represented on the state level? Seems like there might be a bit of a disparity.
Ryan Evans: I think in Utah it just comes down to the actual implementation. I think that's where the -- maybe where the gray area is. I think that overall our state is headed towards what the Clean Power Plan hopes to actually achieve. We've been on this course for a long time of phasing out coal due to market conditions. Natural gas is easily supplanting what we have in coal in terms of our electric production from power plants, but then at the same time, our local utility, Rocky Mountain Power, which is a PacifiCorp company, projects to use about or to meet about 86 percent of our future goals for energy needs, via energy efficiency programs. We've got that focus already on renewables. Renewables is on the rise; energy efficiency is definitely a huge part of that state plan.
Monica Trauzzi: Then with what seems like a natural shift towards clean energy and with this new dynamic in many cases is a broad costly policy like the Clean Power Plan then needed?
Ryan Evans: I think that in a lot of ways, it will help push other states maybe that aren't doing this. Again, it's one of those challenges that I think you have to look at from a state-by-state issue, but again, I think the most important thing about that Clean Power Plan is the realism that probably across the country, a vast majority of utilities are already moving towards electric generation via natural gas over coal regardless. I think -- that's kind of the -- what I see the trend being regardless and I think it just comes down to what each state needs on an individual state basis.
Monica Trauzzi: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come out in strong opposition to the Clean Power Plan. Do you believe that they are fairly representing the broad range of interests that they oversee?
Ryan Evans: I think where they're coming from is on that regulatory side and maybe some of the challenges that it would impose and some of the economic hardships that could impose on some states in some regions and some businesses. They are a very large business -- broad-based business organization. They have to look at what really matters to their members, and they probably have a very strong contingent of members that would be challenged by this and that's understandable. Not everybody will see eye to eye on a huge plan like this.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, we will end it right there. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks for coming on the show.
Ryan Evans: My pleasure. Thank you very much.
Monica Trauzzi: Thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
[End of Audio]