BY TOM BUSSELBERG
BOUNTIFUL - The Bountiful City Council has given its blessing to a plan by the Intermountain Power Plant to convert one of its power plants from coal to natural gas.
The city’s Bountiful Light & Power is a member of the Intermountain Power Agency. The council was required to take action for further planning and implementation to move forward, said Alan Johnson, city power department director.
Conversion must take place by 2027, when California contracts for coal-fired power expire. Those won’t be renewed because of a law in the Bear state against using coal power, he said.
“We hope to have the new natural gas plant in testing by 2025,” Johnson said.
The natural gas plant is expected to cost billions of dollars, he said. By that time, the coal-fired plant should be paid for. Bonds could be sold to finance the new plant, just as bonds were used for the coal-fired plant decades ago, Johnson said.
“There is no immediate cost to Bountiful City” he said. “The only cost change would be dependant on natural gas costs in 2025. Right now that’s not a problem.”
Natural gas is cleaner and, at least in Utah, less expensive than other fuels.
California groups would purchase most of the power generated by the new plant and Utah groups could access that power if needed С as is the current arrangement, Johnson said.
It’s anticipated at least one of two coal-fired plants would be shut down.
Potential stumbling blocks to continuing coal use include not only pollution concerns but also a potential carbon tax, Johnson said.
City Attorney Russell Mahan called access to the coal-fired plant “an important element of the city’s power planning.”
The Bountiful City Power Commission previously endorsed taking action in support of the natural gas plant.