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SALT LAKE CITY — Despite some concerns about priorities set forth in a legislative measure, a proposed revision to Utah’s energy policy passed the House Thursday on a 63-9 vote.
Rep. Colin Jack, R-St. George, is running HB374, which is an outgrowth of a highly critical legislative audit that questioned the efficiency of the state Office of Energy Development.
The audit released last June found a myriad of changing mission statements over the years and no clear direction on where Utah is headed in ensuring reliable energy with enough capacity to serve Utah’s growing population.
Jack said the state’s energy policy over the years has been added to, modified and otherwise altered to reflect an all-of-the-above approach, but it has been haphazard.
“As we’ve added the all-of-the-above to the policy, we’ve put that in in a kind of organic fashion,” he said. “And so now, however many years later, we have a policy that looks like a run over lizard. All the pieces are there, but they’re in no particular order.”
His energy policy amendments revamps the state policy, makes clear definitions and sets up a list of priorities for the state of Utah.
“This gives us a better understanding of what the state wants,” Jack said, explaining the bill.
Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, objected to how those priorities were numbered, particularly because “clean” energy comes in last in the rankings behind reliability, capacity and sustainability.
He described how his wife suffers from often debilitating asthma, as thousands of others do, and clean energy should be a priority for Utah due to its continuing pollution problems.
Briscoe said prioritizing the dynamics of energy development should contain flexibility for the state and not contain directives that saddle the decisions made in Utah.
He noted the strong language of “shall” that is in the amendments, compared to the word “may,” the latter of which grants discretion for energy development pursuits.
Jack’s bill now advances for a Senate debate.