ENERGY Scenarios:
Choices for
the Future

The following scenarios were created by the Energy Action Team to represent possible outcomes for energy in 2050. The primary variable that was modified in each scenario was the source mix for electricity generation. The percentage of energy generated from natural gas, renewables, and nuclear was adjusted in each scenario, resulting in changes to household costs, pollutants, amount of water used, need for energy storage for renewables, and other outcomes. Because the action team could not foresee a future with significant power production from coal, none of the scenarios included substantial coal-fired electrical generation. The scenarios were presented to the public as part of the Your Utah, Your Future Survey in the spring of 2015.

The scenarios were titled Allosaurus, Bonneville Trout, Seagull, Quaking Aspen, and Sego Lily (the state fossil, fish, bird, tree, and flower):

ALLOSAURUS, BONNEVILLE TROUT, AND SEAGULL SCENARIO

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By 2050, the primary source of our electricity transitions from coal to natural gas due to environmental rules concerning emissions from coal-fired power plants. Utahns use 30% less electricity per person than today as a result of energy efficiency and conservation measures. Natural gas produces about half of the electricity we use, and renewables, such as wind and solar, increase to about a fourth. This scenario reflects Rocky Mountain Power's most recent projections and is based on the most economical resource mix.

  • Household costs remain low; only 3% increase from what we pay today.
  • 42% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.
  • 29% decrease in air pollutants such as NOx and SO2 (emissions primarily occur outside Wasatch Front).
  • 76% decrease in the amount of water used to produce electricity.
  • Heavier reliance on one fuel source—natural gas—makes us susceptible to energy supply disruption and price spikes.

QUAKING ASPEN SCENARIO

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By 2050, Utah is as self-reliant as possible and produces most of the energy that we consume. Renewable energy sources, nuclear power, and natural gas each produce about a third of our electricity. Because we produce energy locally and from a variety of sources, we are better able to withstand fluctuations in energy supply and cost. By 2050, Utahns are using 30% less electricity per person than they are today as a result of energy efficiency and conservation measures.

  • Household costs are slightly higher: 12% increase from what we pay today.
  • 65% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.
  • 82% decrease in air pollutants such as NOx and SO2 (emissions primarily occur outside Wasatch Front).
  • 20% decrease in the amount of water used to produce electricity.
  • More diverse fuel sources make Utah less susceptible to supply disruption and price spikes.
  • Transportation and storage of hazardous nuclear waste required.
  • Land needed for new power transmission line corridors

SEGO LILY SCENARIO

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By 2050, the amount of our electricity produced by wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable sources increases to about half, while natural gas provides the other half. Because renewable sources like wind and solar are intermittent (the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine), we must store the energy through batteries, compressed air energy storage (CAES), etc. Energy storage is relatively limited, expensive, and inefficient today but may improve in the future as technology develops. By 2050, Utahns are using 30% less electricity per person than they are today as a result of energy efficiency and conservation measures.

  • Household costs increase significantly: 58% increase from what we pay today.
  • 54% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.
  • 76% decrease in air pollutants such as NOx and SO2 (emissions primarily occur outside Wasatch Front).
  • 83% decrease in the amount of water used to produce electricity.
  • More land needed for wind and solar farms.
  • More diverse fuel sources make Utah less susceptible to supply disruption and price spikes.
  • Land needed for new power transmission line corridors.