The Heber Light and Power Board will take a trip to Corvallis, Oregon to learn about a small nuclear power plant currently under construction and to consider investment opportunities including buying future energy. They continue negotiations with Rocky Mountain Power to find alternatives to installing giant power transmission lines through the heart of the Heber Valley. Carolyn Murray has this update:
Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson says the Heber Valley gets 40 to 70 percent of their energy from hydro, wind and solar power. The balance, they get from the Huntington Coal Power Plant which will eventually be decommissioned.
“Looking at this small nuclear power plant as an option is something we have to consider as a board. I’ll be honest, I’ve been reading a lot about this and I’m not a hundred percent sure I have an opinion one way or the other yet. This is strictly and educational trip to find out if it’s worth it to us. They are asking for investment. It’s brand new technology and I don’t think it’s all the way approved yet. But, the Defense Department is involved. The Department of Energy is heavily involved. It’s not even built so we’re taking a look at a conception of what’s going to happen there.”
Heber Light and Power is not planning to build a nuclear power plant in Wasatch County.
“If we were to move forward with this we would actually invest in building this structure and then we would purchase power from them. And as an investor, we’ve been guaranteed about a six cent per kilowatt rate which is a little bit higher than hydro and water but not as high as other forms of power.”
Heber Light and Power has already invested $100,000 dollars with the Nuclear Power Company, NuSCale who are looking for more financing to complete the nuclear project by 2023.
They’re looking for a decision from us and they want to know if we are willing to move forward in investing. About a $100,000 has already been invested and that’s money we will not get back. Does that mean we need to move forward? No, absolutely not. It just means we need to continue to educate ourselves and there will be several more large payments they will be looking for.”
Johnson and Heber Mayor, Kelleen Potter, want to establish an advisory board to help guide their local power company through the future challenges of bringing affordable power to the growing Heber Valley. That effort was voted down three to two by the Heber Light and Power board of directors..
“That’s a strange one to me. I really don’t know how we could have lost out to have an advisory board. They can’t make action. They can only advise us and we are all spread fairly thin and so to have an additional arm of people giving information, in my opinion, would have been extremely helpful.”
Johnson says she does not understand why the Heber Light and Power Board would vote against creating an advisory board. She says they reached out to the community and identified a number of qualified residents who were interested in serving. Johnson hopes the board will reconsider their decision.
Rocky Mountain Power wants to install above ground power- lines through the Heber Valley to complete a transmission which would deliver power from Wyoming to the Wasatch Front.
“The citizens have made it very, very clear that the huge, tall power lines and structures that started down Highway 40 is not what they want to see marching through their valley. So we are looking with Rocky Mountain Power at other alternatives. They really need to be able to come through. And we would like to see them be cooperative with us in helping to solve that. WE understand what their needs are and to create a loop and coming through our valley is the cheapest, fastest, easiest way to do that.”
She says there are good arguments for burying the lines and she hopes they can find a resolution with Rocky Mountain Power.