Thursday, October 4, 2012

Power plant's lack of 'elbow room' means likely shutdown in 2015

One of Utah's most prominent industrial landmarks may be on the verge of a permanent shutdown, done in by its own scenic setting.

Rocky Mountain Power has warned employees and public officials to expect the likely closure of the company's Carbon Power Plant in the next two to three years.

The plant is one of Rocky Mountain Power's most visible facilities. It's in a narrow, twisty canyon known as Castle Gate, north of Helper at the junction of U.S. Highway 6 and U.S. Highway 191. Thousands of drivers pass by the plant every day as they travel between Price and Provo.

The Carbon Power Plant was built in the canyon in the 1950s because there is a healthy supply of coal nearby. But now, hemmed in by cliffs and highways, it doesn't have enough elbow room to expand. That means the company may be unable to install equipment to bring the plant in line with federal clean air regulations.
A cleanup deadline is looming in the year 2015 for reductions in emissions of mercury, nitrogen-oxides, sulfur-dioxide and particles of ash.

Rocky Mountain Power is still looking for alternative technologies that might allow the plant to meet federal regulations. But the prospects don't look good.

The probable closure is "not a pleasant prospect for the state of Utah," said Carbon County Commissioner John Jones. "I mean it's not only going to affect us, but you're going to see the economy across the state affected."

Although the plant shutdown in 2015 now seems more likely than ever, company officials emphasize they have not made a final decision. That's expected to be made next April. Deseret News