The Associated Press is reporting this morning that Utah's plan to close state offices on Fridays has resulted in a 13% reduction in energy use. The program began last August, when about 17,000 of the state's 24,000 executive branch employees begun working 10 hours a day, four days a week. When he announced the plan, outgoing Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) predicted that Utah would save $3 million with the four-day workweek this year, but officials say cost savings won't be that much. Prices for oil and gas have fallen drastically this year, minimizing the savings.
But the real story is the energy savings and the employee approval of the program. A survey of state employees found widespread happiness with the four-day workweek and absenteeism is down. Additionally, state employees are estimated to save between $5 million and $6 million annually by not commuting on Fridays. And many are acting as energy captains, reminding their fellow state workers to turn off lights and their computers when not using them.
It's up to Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, who is taking over for Huntsman after he joins the Obama administration as the US ambassador to China, if the program will continue.