This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Hundreds of Utahns are calling on industry titan Warren Buffett to cut Rocky Mountain Power's dependence on coal-generated electricity.
Alexander H. Lofft collected nearly 1,600 signatures on a letter he sent last week to Buffett, the chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a Nebraska company with interests in insurance, finance, manufacturing, retail, services and energy, and a businessman considered one of the world's smartest.
Buffett's empire includes Mid-American Holding Corp., the parent company of Rocky Mountain Power's parent company, Pacificorp, and Lofft wants him to understand why so many Utahns are eager for cleaner energy. It boils down to climate, health and economics, said Lofft.
"I thought it would grab people's attention," said the commercial real estate broker based in Park City. "I thought it would get a response of some kind, if not from himself, from someone else in his organization."
He began getting signatures on his Web site, http://www.lesscoal.com, in February. He sent the two-page letter outlining reasons for shifting away from coal-fired power a week ago.
Lofft noted that his effort is not to shut down all coal plants - that would be radical, considering coal plants supply more than 93 percent of the state's electricity, he said.
Instead, he intends to appeal to the company to step up its efforts to diversify its energy portfolio to sources that cause less pollution and contribute less to global warming.
Dave Eskelsen, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power, noted his company already is working on expanding its energy sources. But he added that, as Rocky Mountain Power strives to reduce emissions, it also faces a growing demand for electricity.
"I don't know what kind of impact the petition might have," he said, noting that Buffett is generally not involved in day-to-day operations of his companies.
Eskelsen added that Mid-American is a leader in wind and geothermal energy development. "That said, we still see coal as part of our future."
Lofft already has met with executives of Mid-American and Rocky Mountain Power. He plans to keep talking with the companies and to use his Web site to educate the public.