Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.48
Liaison Amy Brunvand
Submission Date Oct. 21, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Utah
IN-50: Innovation D

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Amy Brunvand
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Long-term 20MW Geothermal Power Purchase and Rate Tariff Leadership

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

A significant shift to clean energy required years of planning to identify energy sources, complicated 25-year projections and financial analysis, negotiation of three-way partner agreements, and pioneering use of a new rate tariff in Utah through the Public Service Commission.
The project completed construction and began delivering power in November 2019 and has resulted in a 23% reduction of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to this effort, the U.S. EPA energy Green Power Partnership Top 30 College & University ranking, released Jan. 27, 2020, lists U as No. 8, with 49% of its energy supplied through new renewable energy. The new rate tariff also set precedence in Utah for large customers to be able to choose and negotiate the costs of off-site renewable energy to be delivered through the grid.

Detailed Description:
The problems with Renewable energy credits (RECs), while serving a useful and important role in the renewable economy, are well known --you buy credits for the energy not the energy itself. There are several things that make this agreement different. Not only was it very large in scale, but the location and type of renewables required many innovative approaches from the University to make the purchase possible.
• The University team and partners worked to align regulation between two separate utility providers (Nevada Energy and Rocky Mountain Power) to enable transmission of renewable energy across utility jurisdictions.
• The University requested proposals for renewable baseload energy through a public, competitive process and eventually selected a joint proposal from Cyrq Energy, a Utah company based in Salt Lake City, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables.
• Negotiation and contracts were between 3 parties… the University of Utah, Rocky Mountain Power, and Cyrq Energy. Because the tariff is complicated and untested, it took about a year of modeling and negotiation for all parties to agree to the terms.
• Revisions were made to a previously unused renewables rate tariff in the state of Utah. Rocky Mountain Power’s Schedule 32 allows a customer to negotiate directly with an energy supplier for the cost of generation while support the costs of the utility provider for backup energy and transportation. As the University was the first to use the tariff, it went through a detailed review and approval process by the Public Service Commission. Once approved, this set precedence that large customers could choose the type of energy they wanted to buy.
• University’s 25-year agreement facilitated financing and construction of new, larger, and more-efficient generating equipment at an existing geothermal well.
These are not offsets or credits but the actual electricity generated by a renewable resource with a strict accounting similar to what utilities themselves do in buying electricity from the marketplace. Through an extensive planning, competitive bidding process, contract negotiation, and rate tariff approval, the University has, in effect, created its own renewable portfolio as a utility would.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Coordination & Planning

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:


Kate Whitbeck. “EPA Ranks U No. 8 for Green Power Use Among Universities. @TheU, 12 February, 2020.


Courtney Tanner. “Most of the University of Utah’s Electricity Will Now Be Fueled by Renewable Energy.” Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Februrary, 2020
URL: https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2020/02/11/university-utah-will-now/

Liz Ivkovich. “Cyrq Energy for All.” @TheU, 10 October, 2017.
URL: https://attheu.utah.edu/facultystaff/clean-energy-for-all/

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