A Sensible Approach to Energy
The Governor's Energy Development Summit is next week, June 3-4, at the Salt Palace Convention Center. It looks to be an exciting and informative event, including sessions, trade show and pre-reception tours of the Utah Geological Survey's Core Research Lab and the University of Utah's Energy and Geoscience Institute and Renewable Energy Demonstration Lab. Click here for the full agenda.
Speaking of energy, there's been talk among some environmental groups and Utahns who take exception with the residential tariff proposed by Rocky Mountain Power for its customers who generate their own power. Because of the tariff, Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO Rich Walje says some groups have questioned the utility's commitment to renewable energy. The proposed $4.25 monthly charge for residential net metering customers in Utah is not a penalty, he explains, but rather a step to promote fairness for all customers, so that prices reflect the actual cost of providing local infrastructure and avoid one group of customers having to subsidize another.
Rich says customers who generate their own power are not paying their share of fixed costs incurred by Rocky Mountain Power for expenses to build, operate and maintain the electrical infrastructure. These customers have lower energy charges, but the actual fixed costs of serving them are not represented on their electric bills, "despite their reliance on continuous access to the power grid." Instead, he says, their costs are subsidized through higher electricity prices for other customers. The goal with the additional fee for net metering and an additional custom service charge for all residential customers in Utah is to "level the playing field by tying less of the fixed costs that exist for all customers to the amount of energy used in a given month."
No organization in Utah has done more than PacifiCorp to make renewable energy resources available to customers. The company has operated hydroelectric plants for more than a century, owns the first geothermal plant to be developed outside of California and facilitated construction of the First Wind project in Milford and the Spanish Fork Wind Park. The company's Utah Solar Incentive Program provides $50 million over five years to help customers install solar panels on their homes and businesses, and in partnership with its Blue Sky customers, the utility is building a solar project in Utah that will initially produce enough energy for 500 homes. There is much more Rocky Mountain Power is doing in renewable energy, but as Rich points out, many groups are urging the utility to do whatever it takes to keep energy costs down and power reliable. That requires the most sensible energy policies for all of its customers.
Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!
President and CEO
A heat map depicting Utah population growth through 2050. Source: Utah Foundation
Utah: 'A Snapshot of 2050'
Urban. Older. More diverse. Those are words used by the Utah Foundation to describe what the state's population demographics could look like by the year 2050.
In its recent report, "A Snapshot of 2050, An Analysis of Projected Population Change," the Utah Foundation says Utah has been one of the five fastest growing states since 2008, and projections of population growth range from one million to 2.5 million new residents by 2050. The analysis is the first in a series of population-related reports the Foundation will produce in 2014.
Who will these newcomers be? Where will they live? And why will they come here? Those are three questions the foundation's analysis strives to answer.
Utah was the eighth most urban state in 2008, "and due to the constraints of both geography and land ownership, this trend is likely to continue," according to the report. About 85 percent of Utah's current, urban population lives along the Wasatch Front, and continued population concentration is expected there, especially within existing city centers, but at varying rates. Citing projections from the Governor's Office of Management and Budget, the foundation predicts significant growth through new developments in areas of Utah, Summit and Wasatch Counties. Some cities within those three counties could experience more than 500 percent population growth.
Of Utah's 29 counties, population projections indicate that nine will more than double in population by 2050. They are Cache, Iron, Juab, Kane, Morgan, Summit, Tooele, Wasatch and Washington. Utah County could see an increase of about 700,000 residents, while Washington County could see an increase of about 334,000 residents by 2050. Though a smaller percentage increase, Salt Lake County is projected to add another 630,000 residents during the same period.
Naturally, factors such as increased fuel costs, traffic congestion, air quality and available land will likely influence where development occurs, the report says. The demands on the housing market are changing with the shifting demographics. The Utah Foundation report cites a 2014 study on generational trends of homebuyers nationally, which showed that buyers over the age of 57 are increasingly buying units in townhouse, condo and senior developments versus younger buyers who overwhelmingly purchase detached, single-family houses.
Utah's past population growth has largely been driven by natural increase–births minus deaths. "High birth rates and a healthy population have been the leading factors in population growth since 1998," according to the report. Utah has the highest fertility rate in the nation and the youngest population. In 2012, more than half of the population was under the age of 30. While Utah's fertility rate isn't expected to change much, the report cites predictions by the Office of Management and Budget that Utah's age structure will have flipped by 2050, thanks largely to aging baby boomers. "Those 60 years and older will become the fastest growing segment of the population," the report notes.
Utah's 65 and older population is projected to double by 2050, while the percentage of population 17 and younger is expected to decline. Although past in-migration hasn't influenced the state's population as significantly as its natural increase, future growth from in-migration could be significant, thanks to the state's low cost of living, low unemployment and strong economic performance, which have created an incentive for people to relocate here.
The Utah Foundation says Utah has been at the top of many lists touting business development, recreation and technological advances. "Provo-Orem, Salt Lake City and Ogden-Clearfield [metros] all maintained spots on the Milken Institute Best Performing cities list in 2013, although their rankings have dropped since 2008," says the report. Another list, the Equality of Opportunity Project, ranked Salt Lake City the most likely city in which individuals can achieve the American dream "through intergenerational economic mobility based upon factors such as job opportunities, social capital and connections to alternative transportation."
Opportunities for intergenerational mobility provide families with a place where future generations can do better economically than those preceding them, which the report says could be an unrecognized reason people are drawn to Utah. According to the 2012 Hachman Index, Utah has the fourth most diverse economy in the nation, with an "industry structure that mirrors 97 percent that of the United States."
As its population grows, Utah will also become more diverse. About four fifths of Utah's current population is white, but according to the report , the state's racial diversity is shifting slowly toward the national average. The proportion of white, non-Hispanic members of the Utah population has decreased steadily since the 1980 Census. In Salt Lake County, it is projected that the population will be comprised of more than 40 percent racial and ethnic minorities by 2050," the report notes.
The where, who and why of population growth in the state will also affect the quality of life for future Utahns. Factors such areas of future new development and redevelopment must be addressed, along with public resources like water, transportation, energy and schools.
"The prospect of future growth creates space for discussion about how Utah will handle new residents," the report notes. "Increasing variability of water source and supply, additional people utilizing public resources such as transportation and utilities, and additional children being added to an already stressed school system are three key reasons why planning for the future is a key step in ensuring the continued quality of life people expect in Utah." To help inform the research process, the Utah Foundation says it is participating in the "Your Utah, Your Future" visioning effort for 2050.
Certainly, growth is nothing new to Utahns. The state population nearly tripled between 1970 and 2013, growing from 1.1 million to an estimated 2.9 million people, according to the Utah Foundation. This "has resulted in a more urban Utah, a more diverse population and a diversified economy." And managing the future "population tsunami" is of significant concern to organizations like the Utah Foundation, Envision Utah, state government and local cities and counties.
The Associated General Contractors of Utah
The Associated General Contractors of Utah, an EDCUtah investor/member since 2013, just celebrated the installation of a new solar power array on its Salt Lake City headquarters at 2207 S. 1070 West. The $136,000 project was completed by Synergy Power Inc. of Midvale and funded through Rocky Mountain Power's BlueSky program. Annual generation of the system will be about 55,900 kilowatt hours of AC power.
AGC President and CEO Rich Thorn says the organization's members are committed to economic development and to the need of being good stewards of the earth. The AGC project was one of 22 projects in Utah awarded during the BlueSky program's 2013 funding cycle, which handed out $1.8 million. Since 2006, BlueSky has helped fund construction for 104 community-based renewable energy projects, the majority of which are for non-profit companies.
As the voice of Utah's construction industry, with nearly 500 members comprised of general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and associate members, the organization appreciates its involvement with EDCUtah, including the project update reports and economic development events. The AGC of Utah's headquarters hosts numerous events and activities throughout the year and is visited by hundreds of people weekly, including political, municipal and other business leaders.
The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Utah is one of the state's oldest and largest associations, having been founded in 1922. For more information about the chapter, visit www.agc-utah.org or call 801-363-2753.
SAMPE Tradeshow (Seattle)
2014 Governor's Energy Development Summit (Salt Palace Convention Center)
EDCUtah Golf for Grants Tournament 2014 (Eaglewood Golf Course, North Salt Lake)
"Exploring the Myths and Misconceptions of Employer Sponsored Healthcare Plans." Hays Company Seminar. Keynote speaker: David Ross – executive vice president of Underwriting Services, June 12 from 1:30-4 p.m. (Little America Hotel, Salt Lake City). RSVP for this seminar by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 801-505-6508.
Ban Bossy – Women, Work, and Leadership: An Evening with Anna Maria Chávez, 6-8 p.m. Zion's Bank Founder's Room, One South Main St. (Salt Lake City). Space is limited. To RSVP email email@example.com or call 801-716-5157.
EDCUtah Quarterly Investor Update (Location TBD)
UTC 12th Annual Golf Invitational (Salt Lake Country Club). Sponsor and connect with more than 100 high-level executives from Utah companies.
Girl Scouts of Utah hosts the Girl Scout National Convention (Salt Lake City)
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In the News
Utah will reach Gov. Herbert's '100,000 Jobs in 1,000 Days' goal earlier than expected
In 2012, Gov. Gary Herbert said he wanted the Utah economy to produce 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. On Tuesday, he said the state would reach that goal sometime in June – five to six months early.
New director chosen for USTAR
A cognitive neuroscientist from the Office of Naval Research will be the new executive director of a state program designed to leverage university research into economic development and under scrutiny for inflating its results.
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Utah Policy)
Utah home to 2 of top 5 fastest growing U.S. cities
South Jordan and Lehi are among the top five fastest growing cities in the U.S., according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week.
BLM reaps $2.8 million in Utah oil and gas auction
The Bureau of Land Management received $2.8 million for oil and gas leases it auctioned Tuesday, but the agency mustered the minimum bids on less than the 102,000 acres it offered. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Is the downtown convention hotel worth the risk?
Begrudgingly, even opponents of the proposed convention center hotel in downtown Salt Lake City say the legislation passed last year is well-crafted policy.
Medicaid expansion and transportation funding are pressing issues for Utah lawmakers
Speaker Becky Lockhart says transportation issues and Medicaid expansion will be two of the hottest issues facing lawmakers over the next few years.
Catheter that emits bacteria-killing light wins $75,000 for Utah team
A student startup from the University of Utah has racked up another business competition win, netting $75,000 to develop and market a bacteria-killing catheter.
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Utah Public Radio)
What shopping will look like in the future
One of America's favorite pastimes is changing rapidly. When it comes to shopping, more Americans are skipping the stores and pulling out their smartphones and tablets. Still, there's more on the horizon for shopping than just point-and-clicking.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
YEA program celebrates new, young business owners
Future business leaders of Utah Valley gathered last week to celebrate their completion of a nine-month course that taught them how to run their own business.
Are you streetwise about doing business in China?
Want to know the secrets to business success in China? The Governor's Office of Economic Development's International Trade and Diplomacy Office, in conjunction with World Trade Center Utah, the World Trade Association of Utah and U.S. Commercial Service, will present a China Business Symposium May 28 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 350 N. State St. in Salt Lake City.
Utah lawmakers consider raising gas tax
It's past time to raise Utah's gasoline tax, which has remained flat for 17 years, several state lawmakers said at a meeting last week.
Panel to discuss where to put Utah state prison
A new committee tasked with recommending where to move the state prison has begun studying possible new homes for the facility.
ATK parts made in Utah helped launch GPS satellite
Technology that was made and developed in Northern Utah played a major role in getting the United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket into the heavens last week.
Will Utah shift more big-business tax bills to little guy?
Utah lawmakers are beginning to explore changes in the handling of property tax disputes with some of the state's biggest corporations in a way that opponents fear could lead to higher taxes for homeowners and local businesses.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Calderon, Lieberman espouse values of free trade
The best way for the United States to fix its immigration problem is to help strengthen Mexico's economy, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon said last week at the Zions Bank Trade and Business Conference.
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Deseret News)
Ute Indian Tribe developing natural gas power plant
The Ute Indian Tribe has announced plans to develop a 1,000-megawatt power plant on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in hopes of spurring economic growth and cutting emissions by providing a cleaner source of electricity to power the Uinta Basin's oil and gas boom.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Vineyard doubles in size; Uinta Basin towns surging, Census shows
Several years of rapid development pushed Vineyard in Utah County to the top of Utah's list of fastest-growing cities and towns for 2013.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
'Silver tsunami' set to hit Utah as older Utahns start to outnumber preschoolers
Utah, which is better known for its bumper crop of children, now has more seniors 65 and older than preschool-age children, according to U.S. Census data.
Utah report: Working individuals in key economic sectors would be the largest group to gain access to health insurance
Two-thirds of the Utahns who would benefit from closing the state's coverage gap are working and are employed in occupations that most people rely on daily and are critical to the state's economy, states a report by the Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP) and Families USA.
Women entrepreneurs finding their groove in Utah
Over the last 13 years, Stephanie Loud has worked to find success in the male-dominated world of construction. The Small Business Administration recognized Loud's efforts and named her the winner of the 2014 Utah District women-owned business award.
Utah unemployment rate dips to five-year low in April
Utah continued to see steady job growth as the state's unemployment rate dipped to a five-year low the past month.
(Deseret News) (Salt Lake Tribune)