Shunning Solar, A 'Clean' Reputation, Autism on Rise 

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Shunning Solar
Utah officials have long had trouble thinking about the future—except, of course, when it comes to Medicaid expansion. In that case, they can't go forward because they know the future holds unsustainable debt. On the other hand, when the subject turns to alternative energy, suddenly their philosophy is all about living for today. Why in the world would anybody support Utah's fledgling solar industry when the state already does a booming business in fossil fuels? In a helpful gesture to the dirty-fuels industry, the Utah Public Service Commission decided it's too iffy to consider any long-term value rooftop panels have on air quality and the environment. So when commisioners factor in costs and benefits of solar power on PacifiCorp rates, the benefits won't really be there.

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A 'Clean' Reputation
Despite the Utah Public Service Commission's blinders, the state still comes out on top when it comes to clean-energy jobs. The Deseret News reports that Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national group promoting renewable-energy business, says for the past four quarters, Utah has been among the Top 10 states for creation clean-energy jobs. That includes 3,000 new jobs that include solar- and wind-installation projects. One solar company is even looking at Utah for its corporate headquarters. And Utah Public Radio says the USDA provided $800,000 in grants to help with solar costs for small businesses. As part of the Farm Bill, it guaranteed $50 million for funding of renewable energy projects in rural America. The idea is to "increase energy independence by increasing some of the private sector supply of renewable energy," says USDA's Jason Justesen. Just don't tell the Utah PSC.

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Autism on Rise
How great is it that Utah's considered the go-to place to study autism in kids? Russian educators have come to Utah State University to study an intensive preschool program there since Russian children who may have autism are often just sent to time-out. Meanwhile, the Deseret News says new reports show autism in Utah on the rise to 1 in 54 kids compared with 1 in 68 with autism nationally. No one really knows why, and it's increasing despite the anti-vaccination movement in the state. The focus, says Cheryl Smith, past president of the Autism Council of Utah, should be on treatment, not numbers. And of course, on the elusive cause.

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