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.