Burning fossil fuels for energy releases significant greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. Large industrial facilities that produce energy, like coal plants, are the key source for these emissions. With the rapid improvements in large-scale wind and solar energy generation, as well as innovations in battery storage, depending on fossil fuels for our energy is becoming obsolete.
HEAL uses energy modeling, independent analysts, and legal consultants to map out feasible paths to retiring coal plants here in Utah, that won’t result in a lag in energy availability or serious financial strain on the utilities or ratepayers. We collaborate with Utah’s main utilities to show them that replacing their coal plants with renewable energy is a realistic option that will benefit them and their customers. And, when necessary, we call upon the public to pressure our utilities to accelerate this transition. We keep coal communities at the forefront of the conversation to ensure that there are sustainable reinvestment strategies for their communities.
Coal plant retirement
Transitioning to a clean energy future will require phasing out dirty energy generation, like coal plants. But turning away from coal plants is more complicated than just flipping a switch to turn them off. Despite these complicated considerations — which range from economic feasibility to transmission concerns — it’s still possible to retire coal plants.
We are developing innovative ways to accelerate the retirement of coal plants. By educating regulators and legislators on what coal is costing Utah, on both the energy, environmental, and economic front, we can gain support from decision makers for transitioning away from dirty energy. We also continually negotiate with Utah’s main utility, Rocky Mountain Power, to help them explore financial and incentive-based approaches. These negotiations often rely on energy and financial modeling, so we are in the process of pursuing independent, technical modeling to show the utility how an incentive-based approach to retiring their coal plants is realistic and beneficial.
Coal community transition
We understand that the retirement of coal plants is a contentious issue that doesn’t always have immediately positive outcomes for everyone — specifically for the local communities that are directly affected by a plant closure. That’s why we are prioritizing these local communities in our plans for coal plant retirement. By speaking with them and then working with policymakers and the utility, we can better plan for the future and mitigate any negative impacts on these communities. Some of these plans can include job training and requiring community reinvestment funds in any coal plant retirement plan.