John Hollenhorst – Deseret News
DELTA — One of the nation’s largest power plants is on the verge of a momentous change of direction.
Pushed by the science and politics of climate change, Utah’s Intermountain Power Project will likely hitch its future to natural gas instead of coal.
For three decades, the plant has had a huge appetite for coal. It comes in by rail — 100 rail-cars a day — 100 tons of coal per carload. The carbon-rich fuel fires boilers that drive turbines generating 1,800 megawatts of electricity.
Last year alone IPP burned 5 million tons of coal.
But coal may be on its way out. IPP’s participants are on the verge of approving a gigantic billion-dollar makeover involving new power units fueled by natural gas instead of coal.
“We’re hoping that this year we’ll get things wrapped up and the scope of that project fully put together,” said John Ward, spokesman for the Intermountain Power Agency.
If it happens over the next decade or so, the change of direction at IPP will be greeted with enthusiasm by many environmental groups.