Energy and Natural Resources
Energy development is an economic sector in which deep wells are drilled, deep shales are fractured, fossilized carbon is crushed and burned, steel towers are marched across counties and states, and countless technologies are deployed in buildings or across the landscape. This breadth of energy development activity has a profound impact on Utah, and its role in the State’s economy is growing. The expansion and diversification of energy production and generation in the State will not only create new jobs and revenues in rural communities, but will also bolster the economy as a whole by helping to maintain the stable and low energy prices that fuel the broader business and industrial sectors.
Utah’s Energy Resources
In the realms of conventional and unconventional fossil resources, Utah’s energy portfolio includes coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shale and oil sands, uranium and other niche resources. The state’s renewable energy resources include hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind and biomass. Further, both the state and, importantly, its regulated utilities consider energy efficiency and conservation as a resource to be developed and expanded as well.
Currently, over 98% of the energy produced in Utah is derived from oil, gas and coal, but unconventional and renewable energy resources provide potential for growth with respect to unconventional energy resources, including oil shale, oil sands and uranium, Utah has among the largest deposits of recoverable resources in the world. The development of these resources could greatly enhance both the State’s economy and the nation’s energy security.
Utah also boasts significant high value renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass. Not only do these resources add value and resiliency through their low carbon-intensity, their distributed nature, and their fixed generation cost over time, but they also provide rural communities with profound economic development opportunities.
Some Energy Statistics
In the first quarter of 2013, the Energy and Natural Resources industry cluster (as defined by GOED) represents 1,005 businesses employing more than 18,600 people. The average annual wage is $90,164, or 222% of Utah’s average wages.
Utah’s energy production was valued at $4.6 Billion in 2012.
Energy development created $587 Million in state and local revenues.
Energy development accounts for 17,000 direct jobs in Utah.
Energy development provides between 29-81% of all property tax revenue in more than a half-dozen Utah counties.
The State had the fifth lowest average electricity prices in the Nation in 2011. In July 2013:
- Utah’s residential electricity rate was 11.39 cents/kWh vs. 12.61 cents/kWh nationally.
- Commercial rates were 8.52 cents/kWh vs. 10.81 cents/kWh nationally.
- Industrial rates were 6.24 cents/kWh vs. 7.32 cents/kWh nationally.
The state of Utah is ranked 11th in the country in crude oil production and 10th in natural gas gross production (Energy Information Administration; rankings based on 2012 oil production and 2011 natural gas production, not including Federal Offshore production areas).
There are approximately 11,200 wells currently in production within the state.
- Approximately 4,300 producing oil wells
- and 6,900 producing natural gas wells
Utah ranked ninth in the United States in crude oil proved reserves and 11th in natural gas proved reserves (not including Federal Offshore areas) in 2010.
Utah ranks first among states in recoverable oil shale and oil sands reserves.
Utah ranks third in geothermal production nationally.
Utah contains four of the Nation’s 100 largest oil fields and two of its 100 largest natural gas fields (2009).
More than four-fifths of Utah households use natural gas for home heating.
Utah produced 1.8 percent of U.S. coal in 2011, and shipped 30 percent of that production out of the State.
Utah has a voluntary goal of 20 percent of net electricity generation from cost-effective renewable energy resources by 2025.
Governor’s Energy Plan
On June 8, 2010, Governor Herbert launched the formal planning process for the Utah Energy Initiative, including the 10-year strategic energy plan. Initiatives and Objectives of the plan include:
- Ensure Utah’s continued access to our own clean and low-cost energy resources.
- Develop and deploy new cutting-edge technologies that combine Utah’s traditional fuels with future opportunities for renewables.
- Create new energy-related manufacturing opportunities and jobs in Utah.
- Address future transmission, generation, and other infrastructure needs, largely through regulatory reform.
- Promote energy efficiency and conservation.
- Expand and facilitate responsible development of Utah’s energy resources, including traditional fuels, alternative fuels, and renewable fuels.
- Expand opportunities for Utah to both market and export fuels, electricity and technologies to regional and global markets.
- Enhance and further integrate partnerships between industry, universities, state government and local communities—especially those in energy-rich rural communities—to address future energy challenges and opportunities.
- Collaborate with other Western states to present a strong and unified voice to federal regulatory agencies on energy and public land issues
For more information, visit the Office of Energy Development at energy.utah.gov.
Utah’s Mineral Resources
Utah is one of the top mineral-producing states in the nation. According to the Utah Mining Association, of the hundreds of known economic minerals, 75 are found in Utah, and 14 have helped make this state a major mineral producer on the national and world scale. Copper, coal, gold, silver, uranium, iron, lead, zinc, molybdenum, phosphate, salt, potash, beryllium, and gilsonite head the list.
- Beryllium – The world’s largest known beryllium resource is in Juab County. Utah continues to be the leading producer of beryllium metal in the United States.
- Copper - The world’s largest open-pit copper mine is at Bingham Canyon just southwest of Salt Lake City. Copper has been produced from about 50 mining districts in Utah, most in the western part of the state
- Gold - Much of Utah’s gold production has been as a byproduct of copper-lead-zinc ore, especially from Bingham Canyon. North of Bingham Canyon, the Barney’s Canyon mine is currently the state’s largest primary gold producer.
- Iron - For many years iron ore has been mined at the Iron Springs district in Iron County, where it occurs as magnetite and hematite replacements of limestone around a granitic intrusion.
- Uranium - Thousands of occurrences have been found in southeastern Utah in the sandstones of the Colorado Plateau.