Coal

smokestackAt HEAL, we work hard to push our utility, Rocky Mountain Power, to move away from relying on dirty coal to embracing clean energy.

It’s challenging work, in part because power companies across America have done an especially impressive job of linking themselves with benign things, green and blue things, like grass, the sky, wind and the earth.

Despite that effective marketing, we and you know the truth: Utilities burning coal to generate electricity are a devastating force for ill. Their pollution sickens our families and is warming our planet. They are not moving nearly quickly enough towards wind, solar and geothermal power – and in many cases, they’re actively trying to block that transition.

The Worst in the West

A significant majority of Rocky Mountain Power’s electricity comes from burning coal and the next biggest chunk from natural gas. The data varies, depending upon the source, but roughly 80 to 85 percent of most Utahns’ electricity comes from polluting fossil fuels.

We need your help to force our utility — Rocky Mountain Power — to move away from dirty coal towards clean energy. Check back to this page regularly and read the below posts and news articles to find out more about that work.

To attract as many people as possible to our campaign targeting Rocky Mountain Power, we’ve created a short video. Please check the video out – we think it’s a powerful indictment of our utility’s hypocrisy. It’s just three minutes long, and we’re immensely proud of it:

For residents and businesses in the Salt Lake City area who receive their electricity from PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power, the company’s largest sources of power generation in Utah – coal-fired power plants – are far from sight, to the south in Carbon and Emery Counties. Basic information on pollution emissions from these plants, and on coal-fired power in the state more broadly, isn’t readily provided by the company to Utahns.

 Here’s a quick rundown or Rocky Mountain Power’s Coal Plants:

  • Hunter

    Three units, 1,320 megawatts total. Located near Castle Dale, Utah in Emery County. Owned and operated by PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power. Began operations in 1978.

  • Huntington

    Two units, 895 megawatts total. Located near Huntington, Utah in Emery County. Owned and operated by PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power. Began operations in 1974.

  • Sunnyside

    One unit, 51 megawatts. Located in East Carbon/Sunnyside, Utah, in Carbon County. PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power purchases 100% of the power from the plant, which is owned and operated by Exelon. Began operations in the 1990s. Burns coal waste from old mines.

  • Carbon Power Plant

    Located in helper in Helper, this coal plant has recently been retired.

Our campaigns pushing Rocky Mountain Power have many angles, from fighting against their proposed solar tax, to pushing the state of Utah to use the Regional Haze rule to crack down on coal power pollution, to shining a light on the tortuous thicket of rules that govern utilities which complicate HEAL’s efforts to wield our citizen activism power.

Hunter Power Plant, Emery County, Utah

Hunter Power Plant, Emery County, Utah


 

 


Recent updates on Coal…

Let's Take a Ride Into Some Energy Policy!!!

HEAL Community Night!!

Come learn about the state's planning prosses for how to deal with Utah's air quality problem and ways you can help.

  Click Here to Find Out More


 

The battle for rooftop solar is coming down to the wire, with just a few months until a final decision on whether Rocky Mountain Power can sharply raise rates on new solar customers.

So much has been happening, as HEAL and our allies fight to make sure that affordable clean energy is an option for Utah families. In this email, I want to show you what your support for HEAL has accomplished. (If you need a quick recap on how Rocky Mountain Power is trying to stifle rooftop solar growth, click here to view this Salt Lake Tribune article.)  


Before we deep dive though, if you want to register your support for solar, please take a moment, click here, and let the governor and Public Service Commission know you want them to keep rooftop solar rates affordable.


Here’s one key way HEAL has been fighting for solar: We have put together a detailed study to convince the Public Service Commission (the state body which oversees Rocky Mountain Power) about the merits of rooftop solar. We are proud to unveil the final product!  

The report was authored by expert staff in Cambridge, Mass. at Synapse Energy Economics, a research & consulting firm. Thanks to your generosity, HEAL was able to bring to the solar fight not just the decades of knowledge of these utility experts, but also a local attorney to help us frame the argument for the PSC.

You can review the complete study by clicking here, but we wanted to share its main points.

Let’s take a ride into some energy policy. 

1. Rocky Mountain Power's analysis neglects short and long-term benefits of rooftop solar. 

In the utility's study to the Public Service Commission to justify rate increases on rooftop solar, the computer model they usedoes not include many of the benefits rooftop solar provides. As a result, Rocky Mountain Power's study midleadingly shows the costs of rooftop solar far outweigh the benefits. 

2. With more rooftop solar there is less need to build new fossil fuel plants! 

Rocky Mountain Power's Integrated Resource Planning process (a big study done every 2 years projecting power supply and demand) shows that if there is enough rooftop solar, there is no need to build more power plants. In sum, the utility itself found, but failed to mention when it came to determining solar’s benefits, that widespread adoption of rooftop solar can avoid 455 MW of new electricity demand -- enough to power thousands of homes.

3.  If Rocky Mountain Power analyzed coal plants the way it does rooftop solar, the facilties would fail its own “cost/benefit” test! 

It is no secret that the price of solar panels has dropped remarkably the last few years. What the utility does not want you to know is renewables are now cheaper than coal and their own modeling shows it.

4. Rooftop solar avoids harmful air emissions 

At first glance, you are probably saying “duh.” But, quantifying the cost of harmful emissions from coal plants is pretty hard. Luckily HEAL's experts determined solar can help avoid almost $100 million in health-related costs over the next 20 years. 

5.  Rooftop solar can avoid environmental compliance costs

A coal plant is a simple machine. For decades, a boiler burns the coal to produce steam, that steam spins a generator to create electricity, and a smokestack is where all the emissions get pumped out of. If you look at a coal plant today there is a lot more equipment, almost all of it to clean up the emissions from burning coal. That equipment is not cheap. If you have enough rooftop solar to reduce the need to generate coal power, ratepayers do not need to pay as much compliance equipment. 

If you want more on our findings, you can look at the study here. Or, just let me know if you have any questions! 

However, this study won’t make nearly as big of a difference without your voice to help support it. So please take a moment to send a message to the governor’s office and Public Service Commission and let them know you want to see all the benefits of solar counted. Click here to be taken to our action alert where you can send a pre-written message or (and much more effective) write your own message. 

Onward and upward! 

Michael Shea | Senior Policy Associate

Read more...

NEWS: Solar energy is killing coal, despite Trump's promises

By Matt Egan
CNN, June 20th

Trump has taken steps to ease the burden on coal country by ripping up environmental rules and pledging to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.

But those deregulatory steps do little to offset the mounting long-term challenge that coal faces from cleaner forms of energy, especially solar.

By 2040, U.S. power generation from renewable energy is likely to skyrocket by 169%, according to a recent forecast from the research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Coal-fired power is projected to plunge by 51% in the United States over the same period.

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To read more, click here.

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NEWS: Coal Market Set To Collapse Worldwide By 2040 As Solar And Wind Dominate

By Alexander C. Kaufman

Huffington Post, 6/16/17

Coal-fired power is on pace to collapse in the United States and Europe over the next two decades, and will peak worldwide in nine years, according to a long-term forecast released on Thursday.

Solar and wind energy, meanwhile, will dominate over the next 23 years, comprising nearly three-quarters of the expected $10.2 trillion in new electricity investments.

“This year’s report suggests that the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including those in electric vehicles, in balancing supply and demand,” Seb Henbest, lead author of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s 2017 New Energy Outlook report, said in a statement.

As a result, carbon pollution from the power sector will reach its apex in 2026. By 2040, emissions are forecast to be 4 percent below 2016 levels.

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To read more, click here.

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