Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Utah counties power through Great Recession

A relentless demand for electricity has kept the economies of Emery and Carbon counties humming through the Great Recession.

Not that there haven’t been plenty of personal and commercial brownouts in the past couple of years. At the food banks Jackie Butkovich runs in Price and Castle Dale, the number of families being served was 83 percent higher last month than in September 2008. Some businesses did not survive. But the drain on her limited resources could have been much worse if it were not for the stabilizing force provided by the high-paying jobs involved in generating electricity at PacifiCorp’s three coal-fired power plants — Hunter 1 in Castle Dale, Huntington outside the Emery County town of the same name, and the Carbon plant near Helper.

Hundreds work directly at the plants or on power lines emanating from them. Hundreds more work in the coal mines that supply the fossil fuel that turns the turbines to make the electricity. Scores of truck drivers are employed moving cut coal from mines to PacifiCorp’s plants or to rail lines where it will be hauled to other utilities. Service companies abound that provide the labor and supplies needed to keep mining equipment, big rigs and giant electrical motors and fans running smoothly. Salt Lake Tribune