Utah governor set to sign coal power plant bill

Bonds

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Thursday he will sign by the end of the day a bill that has been flagged by the Intermountain Power Agency (IPA) as posing risks to its bond-financed transition from coal to cleaner fuels. 

The legislation aims to keep the state’s largest coal-fired power plant located near Delta, Utah, in operation beyond its July 1, 2025, shutdown deadline. 

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said there is “a strong possibility” of a special legislative session that could take place before July to make some “tweaks” to the measure aimed at preserving the state’s largest coal-fired power plant.

Utah Governor’s Office

“If there are opportunities to keep those facilities running, we’re going to want to exhaust every possibility out there,” Cox told reporters, adding, he envisions the potential of “a third party, if one exists, that would be interested ultimately in purchasing the property.”

He also said there is “a strong possibility” of a special legislative session that could take place before July to make some “tweaks” to the measure. 

“More than anything, we just want to make sure we get this right,” Cox said.

In a March 8 letter to the governor, IPA Board Chair Nick Tatton pushed for a veto, saying the bill threatens the completion of a new power facility using natural gas and hydrogen, as well as control of the agency by municipalities in the state.

“IPA has issued nearly $2 billion in bonds to date and has committed to expend billions of dollars more in construction, service, and sales contracts,” Tatton wrote. “(Senate Bill) 161 puts those bonds at risk and jeopardizes IPA’s ability to perform under those contracts.” 

The agency sold tax-exempt and taxable power supply revenue bonds in 2022 and 2023 to finance the replacement of coal-fueled generation with a new facility housing two natural gas-based power blocks. 

Tatton’s letter noted there is a lack of buyers for electricity produced using coal, and said the measure, if enacted into law, would lead to significant additional costs and delay for IPA’s “renewed” project due to conflicts that would ensue with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations and permits.

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