Boring but Epic

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As I start this post I’m aware that while I think it is epic, most of Provo will not. It’s a little hard to explain (and maybe a bit boring) but worth the effort to try. Provo belongs to an organization called Utah Municipal Power Agency (UMPA). With 5 other cites we join our efforts and together buy the power for our cites.

For many years we have been heavily dependent on coal sources. Our current mix of power used in Provo is about 70% coal and 30% hydro. We’ve been literally locked into this ratio due to long term contracts signed many years ago.

As long as I’ve been involved with UMPA (6 years) I have watched them scour the world for better options once the contracts started to expire. We’ve looked at everything from more coal options, to nuclear, to natural gas and renewables. All along we’ve known that we needed something reliable, affordable and better for the environment. For six years I’ve watched as one by one every option was eliminated because it couldn’t meet all of these expectations. 

That’s why the announcement last week that UMPA had purchased a natural gas plant was epic to me. With the purchase, we are taking a big step toward energy self-sufficiency and cleaner electrical generation. 

Emissions: The West Valley natural gas plant will lower our overall CO2 emissions from its energy resource portfolio. The nature of this type of plant also will complement the addition of renewable power, such as wind and solar. This type of plant makes it easier to take on renewables in our portfolio.

Affordability: Natural gas is leading the market today in affordability. In addition, the plant was purchased at a price far below what it would have cost us to build the plant which helps with the affordability and locking in a source of this magnitude helps with the stability of prices into the future. 

Reliability: With the electricity needs of UMPA’s member cities continuing to grow as new homes and businesses are constructed, the plant purchase will allow UMPA to meet those load demands, instead of having to purchase power on the open market.

My compliments to the staff at UMPA, board members and the technical committee.

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  1. Karen

    Thanks! I’m excited to see things moving in this direction!

  2. James

    Do we know what our new mix of power use in Provo will be now? (Was 70% coal, 30% hyrdro)

    1. John

      Hi James,

      I was able to get even more current numbers for you. Currently UMPA’s mix is about 25% hydro, 1% solar and wind, 39% coal fired, and the remaining 35% is purchased under contract (which is primarily coal fired generation). In the next five years, the contract portion (35%) is expected to be replaced with the natural gas generation from this new acquired plant. UMPA and Provo Power are looking to expand and add more renewables into the mix to meet future growth and comply with renewable goals set by the state.

      1. Matt

        This is awesome
        Maybe you can start getting serious about natural gas for Provo city’s fleet of vehicles as well.

      2. James

        Thanks for the reply! I’m looking forward to having cleaner/more renewable energy in the future.

  3. Mike

    That said, I think Provo needs to seriously review and improve it’s program and support for people who are looking to help Provo become energy independent by adding solar and other renewable energy sources to their own property. I welcome your strenuous support and such efforts.

    1. Provo Power

      Mike, the new Provo Power Campus will actually have solar panels to offset some of it’s own energy usage and it will have 2 efficient charging stations for electric cars (public use). We (Provo Power) are also looking at purchasing a feasible electric vehicle to add to our fleet. We promote renewable energy sources (i.e. our Net Metering Program and RenewChoice) to our customers to utilize for the common good. Because we are public utility, we have to be budget sound which sometimes inhibits our abilities to add structures and energy producing sources without forcing a rate increase to our customers. With that said, UMPA and the member cities are looking into renewable options as a whole. Our customers are our biggest concern and we are looking at every angle to ensure reliable electrical service to everyone.

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