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Utah Rep. John Curtis calls plan to keep coal plants open ‘market-driven policies’

By Alixel Cabrera - Utah News Dispatch | Apr 4, 2024

Kelcie Hartley, Daily Herald file photo

Rep. John Curtis speaks about climate change at the Sutherland Institute's Congressional Series on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Rocky Mountain Power made public its updated Integrated Resource Plan on Monday, establishing its intentions to extend the operational lives of two major coal powered plants and cut down on new capacity from renewables.

The Hunter and Huntington plants, both located in Emery County, won’t retire in 2036, as stated in a previous version of the plan released in May 2023. Instead, the Hunter plant will keep its fossil fuel operations until 2042, and the Huntington plant will stay open until 2036.

The news sparked disappointment among clean energy advocates, who argued the change of plans was “a setback for our clean energy future and our economy.” However, for Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, the change of plans is representative of “why market-driven policies are better answers than the government picking winners and losers.”

“We can’t move faster than the pace of technology if we want a reliable and resilient energy grid,” Curtis said in a statement. “With Utah’s natural resources, it is possible to reach our goal of affordable, reliable, and clean energy.”

Curtis represents Emery County, an area that has drawn heated discussions in the Utah Legislature as lawmakers passed multiple bills allowing the state to protect and prioritize already established energy sources, such as coal.

Curtis  has said in the past that fossil fuels should be part of an affordable, reliable and clean energy future and has urged policymakers “to stop demonizing the workers and communities who have powered our country for generations using traditional energy sources.”

However, Utah has an opportunity to be a leader on renewable energy, climate advocacy groups said in response to the utility change of plans. But, in order to achieve that, the state should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate investments on solar, wind and energy storage.

“The time to do this is now, when we have historical opportunities to benefit from federal programs to invest in workers, in energy communities, and in cleaner generation,” HEAL Utah said in the statement on Tuesday.

Utah News Dispatch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news source covering government, policy and the issues most impacting the lives of Utahns.


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