The continued reluctance of Rocky Mountain Power to control the emission of toxic pollutants from coal fired electric generating units (EGU’s) is of great concern for a number of reasons.
1. It causes significant human caused haze and visibility impairment to all of Utah’s national parks which negatively impacts the economic viability of the gateway communities around the parks. The combined economic output generated by the parks is in the region of $1.7 billion.
2. The impact of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions on human health and environmental degradation is a toll which often appears intangible but is very real. We are talking about asthma attacks, heart attacks, birth defects and deaths as well as the effects of acid rain as a direct result.
3. In 2016 the EPA designated that both the Hunter and Huntington plants (total 4 EGU’s) need to have selective catalytic reduction (SCR) converters fitted to effectively reduce NOx emissions. The costs for this process cannot be characterized as an add-on but rather be calculated into the true cost of fossil fuel generated electricity. These emission controls also cannot be negated or offset by citing the closure of other older plants coming off-line.
Unfortunately, in 2017, the Trump administration and the state of Utah halted implementation of these necessary technologies, at the behest of Rocky Mountain Power.
It is time for Utah to shift from coal to clean renewable energy generation. The comparison between the two is becoming a no-brainer where the cost of renewable energy keeps coming down while at the same time creating jobs at an impressive rate. Coal is trending in the opposite direction and has lasting impact on our health and environment which we will be paying for years to come.
Jeremy King, Salt Lake City