Environment & Public Lands
7:55 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

St. George Population Growth Spurs Energy Independence

As temperatures in Utah continue to approach and exceed 100 degrees, cities across the state are trying to meet high energy demands. In southern Utah, St. George’s population growth has made them less dependent on outside companies for energy and spurred a growth in their own energy infrastructure.

St. George has grown more than 50 percent in the last twelve years. As a result, the city has improved its own energy infrastructure and become less dependent on suppliers like the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS. UAMPS is a government agency that provides wholesale electric energy to towns throughout the intermountain west. Lori Mangum is the Energy Resource Manager for the St. George Energy Services Department.

“As we grew in the last 15 years, we’ve staffed up so we basically do everything that UAMPS would have done for us originally, we do internally here,” she says.

Since 2007, the city has installed two 40 megawatt natural gas units to handle the summer energy demands. The units run only in the summer months and help the city reduce the threat of brown outs and other outages. Jackie Coombs, Customer Service Manager for UAMPS, says UAMPS allows for cities, like St. George, to determine what and how much energy they need from UAMPS.

“Members can go out and secure their own energy need from third parties and then UAMPS helps integrate those load needs into their portfolio,” she says.

St. George has also been increasing their solar energy use by recently building a two megawatt solar farm.