HB394: Clean Business Day

SALT LAKE CITY—A Tesla parked on the South Capitol steps to promote Utah Clean Business; it stood in stark contrast to the decision of state legislators not to pass HB394, which would have allowed Tesla Motors to own its own dealership.

The car company was at the Capitol, not because of the bill, but as part of the Mar. 9 Clean Energy Business Day. The annual event features several businesses from Utah’s clean energy industry that are available to visit with legislators in the Capitol rotunda.capitol5

Even though Tesla must continue to sell through third-party dealers due to the failed House bill, this didn’t stop legislators from checking out and sitting in the bright red Tesla outside.

“Nice and quiet aren’t they? A little out of my budget range though,” said Rep. Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi, as he sat in the Tesla.

ETC Group, which represents energy engineers who optimize component systems, was among the companies waiting patiently to meet with legislators.

“Energy efficiency is very important, I think that conservation of resources is one of the things that everyone in the United State is looking out for,” said Tracy Price, a representative of ETC group, who said that while we normally think of conservation of resources, we don’t often think of conservation of energy itself. The more infrastructure we have in place to reduce consumption them better it is for us in the long term, she said.

Several bills regarding clean energy and clean air have been considered in the 2015 session; however, none has passed thus far. SB87, which would have allowed Utah’s Department of Air Quality to create rules and regulations that exceeded federal regulation, is one example of a failed clean energy bill this session. Meanwhile, several residents of Utah remain concerned about the quality of their environment, as seen through rallies like the annual “Clean Air, No Excuses” rally.

Many other green businesses are claiming that there is a need for changes in how green infrastructure is financed, and have recommended giving additional tax breaks to individuals who choose to go green.

“People say ‘I love [clean energy], my heart is here, how do I do it? How do I get the money to do it?’”said Nikki Anderson, a project manager and design engineer from Hunt Electric Inc. “This is something said by customers for any size of system and I think that there are a lot of options that other states have for financing that we are trying to progress and hopefully those options will be passed soon.”

With the last day of the session on Mar. 12, it is unlikely that we will see any clean energy financing bills this session. Still, this annual event gives legislators the opportunity to get valuable information from environmental advocates to help with potential legislation next year.

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