HEAL Utah Calls for Accelerated Transition to Clean Energy Amidst Rocky Mountain Power’s Delayed Coal Phase-Out

HEAL Utah Calls for Accelerated Transition to Clean Energy Amidst Rocky Mountain Power's Delayed Coal Phase-Out


Meisei Gonzalez 


meisei@healutah.org, (801) 355-5055 EXT 2


Salt Lake City, UT (April 2) Utah continues to rely heavily on coal and gas production to meet our electricity needs despite clear evidence that air pollution from fossil fuels harms our health and is the dominant cause of climate change. Coal and gas production not only contributes to local pollution, where it is produced and used, but emissions from fossil fuels are a contributing factor in extreme weather events like wildfires, drought, and heat waves. Utah’s ongoing reliance on fossil fuels has the potential to cause lasting harm to Utah’s environment, our economy, and the health of our communities.

HEAL Utah expresses deep disappointment and concern in response to Rocky Mountain Power’s recent announcement to extend the operations of their coal-fired power plants in Utah by a full decade to 2042. The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) process, conducted every two years, is meant to efficiently and cost-effectively plan for future energy needs. However, this latest update to the IRP delays the closure of coal-fired power plants Hunter and Huntington and is a major setback for our clean energy future and our economy. In addition, it is particularly disappointing to see Pacificorp renege on its commitment to purchase more renewable energy when we are in the middle of an ongoing air quality and climate crisis.  

With its tremendous renewable energy potential, Utah has the opportunity to lead the way on renewable energy, rather than falling further behind. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has identified Utah as being within the top seven states in terms of solar potential. Utah is similarly well suited for developments in wind and geothermal energy. In order to realize this potential,  we must reduce our reliance on expensive fossil fuels and accelerate our shift to cost-effective, renewable energy sources like solar and wind combined with energy storage. The time to do this is now, when we have historical opportunities to benefit from federal programs to invest in workers, in energy communities, and in cleaner generation.  

It is evident that Rocky Mountain Power is prioritizing coal at the expense of Utah ratepayers and communities. These backward-looking decisions risk leaving communities and workers behind who could be planning for and benefiting from clean energy investments, while placing a greater cost burden on ratepayers. 

Utah’s recent legislative session demonstrated a lack of seriousness in diversifying our energy needs. Several bills focused on investing in and promoting fossil fuel energy production, while   neglecting the imperative to transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

Reports from 2022 show that coal comprises 57% of Utah’s energy generation, while solar and wind contribute less than 10% and 2% respectively. We must prioritize a transition to cleaner energy sources to safeguard our future and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Ultimately, building an inclusive clean energy future that isn’t reliant on fossil fuels is crucial for reducing pollution, creating new jobs, and ensuring a sustainable and healthy future for all Utahns.


About HEAL Utah

The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) has been an environmental advocacy organization, watchdog, and strategic influencer in Utah since 1999. By empowering grassroots advocates, using science-based solutions, and developing common-sense policy, HEAL has a track record of tackling some of the biggest threats to Utah’s environment and public health — and succeeding. The organization focuses on clean air, energy and climate, and radioactive waste. HEAL uses well-researched legislative, regulatory, and individual responsibility approaches to create tangible change, and then utilizes grassroots action to make it happen.

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