Utah Legislation Preserves Rural Jobs While Securing Utah’s Energy Future

March 6, 2024

During Utah’s 2024 General Session, the Legislature passed S.B. 161 Energy Security Amendments to allow the existing Intermountain Power Plant (IPP) to continue to operate in a way that will not harm the new natural gas-fired power plant. By providing a dual path to keep both plants running, this bill helps Utah maintain a reliable supply of energy while exploring new energy sources and supports opportunities for economic growth in the state’s rural areas.

“This is not only about preserving a few hundred jobs – it’s about building up Utah’s rural communities,” said Sen. Derrin Owens, the bill’s sponsor. “The coal plant has the capacity to bring opportunities to Millard County they wouldn’t have otherwise, bringing companies that can make coal production cleaner. The multiplier effect these coal units have can help find innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions while stimulating economic development in rural Utah.”

S.B. 161 creates the Decommissioned Asset Disposition Authority within the Office of Energy Development to evaluate how to keep IPPs existing electrical generation facilities open without harming plans for a new natural gas plant. The authority must submit an alternative air permit application, determine the existing plant’s fair market value and consider offers to purchase it. The bill does not halt IPP’s development of a natural gas power facility; instead, it creates a path to utilize both traditional and natural resources.

“While it’s important to invest in innovative energy solutions, we can’t completely abandon existing energy production methods,” said Sen. Owens. “S.B. 161 examines how we can protect the economic interests and low electricity costs in rural Utah while still moving toward cleaner energy solutions.”

“This piece of legislation is all about safeguarding Utah’s energy security,” said Rep. Carl Albrecht. “We must protect our power grid from blackouts and brownouts and keep coal-fired power operational until the next source of reliable, affordable and dispatchable electric generation becomes available.”

This legislation follows various bills passed during the 2024 session aimed at making Utah energy independent. Lawmakers are working to secure Utah’s energy future by investing in innovative energy solutions without abandoning existing energy production methods that keep electricity reliable and affordable. 
The bill takes effect on May 1, 2024. Learn more about the bill here.

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