A conversation about energy innovation in Utah


Ubusiness partnered with Holland & Hart to host a panel discussion featuring Utah’s energy leaders. Moderated by Thom Carter from the Utah Office of Energy Development, they discussed how the Utah energy industry is adjusting to political and market pressures, the obstacles and opportunities that lie ahead, and why infrastructure and education are crucial to the energy future of our state. Here are some highlights from the event.

Have political pressures from the federal government, as well as market pressures, encouraged you to adapt? If so, how?

Blair Blackwell | Director of Corporate Affairs | Chevron Salt Lake Refinery

There is no doubt that we are forced to adapt. We’re seeing a lot of these initial efforts as a California-based company. Chevron, Delta, and Google are coming together around sustainable aviation fuel and actually putting new raw materials into our Federal Communications Commission in El Segundo – which is the refinery that then supplies Delta in California – and asking Google to follow up on it. ‘whole life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions. on that. Last week, we announced our intention to take a stake in ACES Delta, the green hydrogen project that Mitsubishi and Magnum Development are working on. We see that there is real power and possibility with hydrogen.

Josh Brown | Director of Government Affairs | Rio Tinto

The interesting policy challenge is that mining is [being seen as something that needs to be] eliminated. There is a failure to understand that [everything we consume] is cultivated or extracted before use. So, as copper tends to be needed for future electrification, there should be a fairly large gap between the available copper and the copper needed to achieve these goals. For this reason, we need to operate in a sustainable, smarter and more efficient way, but copper mining must continue – and indeed must increase – to meet the needs of this future electrification. I think there’s a lot of education going on to help lawmakers on both sides understand that for this electrification to happen, sustainable miners need to be able to overcome regulatory hurdles in a timely manner to complete these. mines.

Brad Schafer | Head of State Government Affairs | Marathon Oil Company

It’s in California that we see a lot of these policies that push us to [a greener direction]. And as long as policymakers don’t pick winners and losers, we can all compete. Our company exists to provide transportation fuels, and right now crude oil is sort of the dominant raw material, simply because of its availability. But we actually see ourselves as agnostic when it comes to the product we’re putting in place upstream, because what concerns us is what comes out of the background. So we take soybeans and rendered fat to produce renewable diesel.

As the governor likes to point out, when growth precedes infrastructure, we fail. But when infrastructure precedes growth, we succeed. How do we make sure we have the infrastructure in place to be successful?

Jeff Peterson | Executive Director | Utah Rural Electricity Cooperative Association

Because we serve such rural areas, it’s very common that we have entire counties or communities that are radially fed — there’s basically only one line going out. Some people get frustrated sometimes because they see a power line and say, “Why can’t you just put that extra load on it? I tell people it’s like a garden hose and the hose can only withstand limited flow and pressure. And if you want to increase that, you really need a bigger pipe. In other words, we need to build the infrastructure to accommodate the future of electric vehicles in rural areas. It’s harder for us to justify the cost of some of these things because we just don’t have the penetration of electric vehicle demand to reduce that cost yet. From our perspective, we would need a little help from state and federal governments to achieve this.

Brett Brun | Director of Operations | Energy of Domination

In a way, infrastructure is linked to the demand for electricity. There are more and more power plants running on natural gas, and we are looking for ways to help. We’re doing a three-phase project of bringing a 20-inch line back to the St. George area over the next three years to be able to make sure we’re there for that infrastructure.

Also, we have a rural expansion program to try to accommodate rural Utah, and we have offered to the Public Works Commission to help them get to Green River. We have already requested permission to extend the service to Eureka and also to Goshen. We are currently under construction for Eureka and will be finished by the end of the year. We’ll be leaving for Goshen in 2022, then heading to Green River in 2023. So this infrastructure is alive and well, and we’re doing our best to try to look into the crystal ball and be ready for the demand that’s coming. .

Adam Seuss | VP, Government Relations | Sinclair Oil Corporation

I think building and repairing existing roads and bridges, upgrading airports, 5G and other things are, of course, appropriate. I want to be explicitly clear that Sinclair Oil is neither anti-wind nor solar. The problem is the mandates, the funding of taxpayers and the lack of seriousness of the plan and the approach. If you think of the oil and gas industry, from production to retail, the economic effect on GDP is staggering. The number of jobs that the industry supports, directly and indirectly, is staggering.

Blair Blackwell | Director of Corporate Affairs | Chevron Salt Lake Refinery

How to produce affordable, reliable and always cleaner energy, and how to do it safely? Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in recent years on this front. If you look at Chevron’s strategy, you’ll see that instead of investing in wind and solar, we’re really focusing on the areas where we have infrastructure and expertise. Whether it’s installing electric vehicle charging ports at some of our stations or adding one of the first compressed natural gas stations to a Chevron in California, we’re looking to install it across the entire range. line, and we’re even seeing a few hydrogen stations coming in right now. It’s about using the infrastructure we already have to bring the fuels of the future to the customer.

During our monthly roundtable, leaders gathered to discuss Utah's energy innovation and a plan for the future.

What do you want readers to know about your industry, your business, and how Utah envisions a new energy future?

Scott Thompson | Founder and CEO | DiVi Energy

From my perspective, I want readers to understand that they may have the opportunity to do something themselves. If anyone reading this article owns a business or owns a facility, there are things they can do right now to participate and become more energy efficient and be part of the solution rather than the problem. Rocky Mountain Power is currently offering incredible incentives for facility upgrades. The state has provided grants for the modernization of infrastructure and for electric vehicle charging stations. There are ways to do that and to carry out these projects. Even though we have challenges when it comes to the big picture and the infrastructure issues that arise, there are still things that can be done every day to move the meter.

Josh Brown | Director of Government Affairs | Rio Tinto

We are living in an unprecedented period with climate change. The fuel, mining and power industries are very much in tune with what is going on and strive to find long term solutions, reduce the carbon footprint, and help the nation and l ‘State to succeed and to move forward. There is a huge opportunity for the state to be better informed about the whole process. It is possible to help educate the next generation on what it takes to make your cell phone, vehicles and lights come on every time you flip the switch. The process takes a lot of people, a lot of industries and a lot of work steps that need to be maintained. The better we can educate, the better we can find long-term solutions.

Brad Schafer | Head of State Government Affairs | Marathon Oil Company

Utah [is fortunate to be an] energy exporter. We are not dependent on imported energy. We have our own supply of crude here. We have access to crude in neighboring states. We have a refining center between here and Wyoming that supplies that market.

From Marathon’s perspective, we welcome public policy and understand that public policy is a big driver of our world and our regulation. All we really ask is for a level playing field. And that when we define public policy, there is no beneficial outcome. Our state and our country have worked wonderfully when policymakers set goals and then allowed the ingenuity and creativity of the U.S. economy to achieve those goals.

Gary Swan | Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing | National Energy Foundation

Don’t miss the forest for the trees, it’s our mission and our energy literacy. Our goal is to help students and teachers understand the forest, understand the big picture, and understand how it all works down to the smallest details. We will continue to use this as a driver in how we design curriculum, how we present messages, and how we engage with educators in various parts of the country.

Jon Cox | Vice President of Government Affairs | Power of the Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountain Power is very excited about the energy future, and I think Utah should be very excited about its energy future. In electricity, Utah is truly the crossroads of the West. We have a western grid, and if you’re looking to move the hydro power from the northwest to the southwest, you go through Utah. If you want to shift the Wyoming wind west, you go through Utah. Solar comes from Utah and goes elsewhere. It really is a place where trade happens. I’m encouraged by the growth we’ve seen over the past decade here, and I think the next decade will be even better.

During our monthly roundtable, leaders gathered to discuss Utah's energy innovation and a plan for the future.

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