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McEntee: For Utah, array of alternatives beat out nuclear power
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

On a hike on what we call the Old Pipeline Trail, I looked down at the top of the Natural History Museum of Utah and its huge array of solar energy panels and innovative water catchers.

In October, I stopped in Green River and watched as the river itself flowed smoothly southward. More recently, I drove past the enormous wind turbines in the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon.

But according to Blue Castle Holdings, what Utah really needs is a nuclear power plant that, in all likelihood, would send much of its energy out of state.

So, a plant that would use a large amount of Green River water, cost a fortune to build and maintain, and would under present and probably future circumstances have to store its waste onsite, is Utah's dream come true?

I'm refraining from using the word that comes to mind.

What Utah needs instead is a comprehensive system of solar, wind, geothermal and natural gas energy production and storage capability, as the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah has proposed in a sweeping study of energy alternatives.

The study finds that system, while it would take decades to fully implement, would cut consumers' energy costs, drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming and protect the water in the nation's second-driest state.

It also would reduce our reliance on coal-fired power plants, which contribute significantly to pollution even as many send power outside the state. The Intermountain Power Plant, for example, sends about 75 percent of its juice to Southern California.

And, according to a recent national poll, 77 percent of the respondents said they back using clean, renewable energy resources and increased efficiency as an alternative to more nuclear power in the U.S. They also want federal loan guarantees shifted from nuclear to wind and solar power, according to the poll, by ORC International for the nonpartisan Civil Society Institute.

Back here in Utah, look around. Energy-wise buildings are going up all over the place, and LEED certifications for energy efficiency are much sought after. Owners of older homes, like me, are chipping away at the same goal.

As I write, I'm looking at the greening Ensign Peak and the pristine — for now — blue sky above it. I'm thinking about the waters I've fished, rafted, swum and waded, and the lands they course through.

And about the Green River, which merges with the Colorado, already tainted by tons of uranium waste left after the boom years of the Cold War.

The fate of Blue Castle's nuclear dream rests in a state court for now and quite possibly in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission later.

So what are we going to go for, Utah? A nuclear power plant that would enrich investors or sustainable clean energy that would enrich our lives? Really, there's only one choice.

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com .

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