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Utah Power & Light

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UP&L History

Funding Universe

The following comes from Funding Universe International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 27. St. James Press, 1999. (Mirrored without permission from Funding Universe; source link) (In case source becomes unavailable)

Company History

Utah Power and Light Company (UP&L) is the major provider of electrical power in Utah and the Intermountain West. Since its creation in 1912, it has acquired more than 100 small power producers and supplied power for the area's homes, companies, and cities. UP&L has encouraged the use of electrical consumption by promoting appliances and the benefits of modern electrified life. It has endured many challenges from the Great Depression to the energy crisis of the 1970s, when it began emphasizing energy conservation and finding new sources of energy. In 1989 UP&L became a subsidiary of Portland-based PacifiCorp, which operates in seven states: Oregon, Utah, Washington, Montana, Idaho, California, and Wyoming. In late 1998 Scotland-based ScottishPower began the acquisition of PacifiCorp, but government approval was pending. Heavily regulated historically by state laws and policies, UP&L and most electric utility firms face a major change from probable energy deregulation and increased competition as the century ends.

Preliminary Power Developments in Utah

Strange as it may seem, Utah played a key role in the history of electrical power. While Utah was still a federal territory, in 1880 the Salt Lake Power, Light, and Heating Company was formed. Following London, New York, San Francisco, and Cleveland, in 1881 Salt Lake City became the world's fifth city to electrify with a central station source of electricity. Dr. John McCormick in his history of UP&L described this dramatic moment: "At 8 p.m. the lights came on. Even a blind man would have known it because a loud shout went up from the assembled spectators, and those who had remained inside until the last moment rushed out into the already crowded streets. At first there was only a faint, pale glow, but it gradually grew brighter and brighter until each lamp 'glowed like a sun, being fully as dazzling to the eye and lighting up every nook and corner within their reach with the brightness of noonday'."

One of the first main uses of electricity was to run streetcars. The Salt Lake City Street Railway Company in 1872 had started the city's first streetcars pulled by horses and mules. In 1889 electricity replaced the animals in Salt Lake City's trolleys, allowing some families to live further from downtown. Ogden, Provo, and Logan, Utah also had electric streetcars.

Electric streetcars within cities led to electric trains between cities. Five such interurban trains were built in Utah, starting in 1891 with the Bamberger line between Salt Lake City and Ogden, originally a steam-powered line. Other interurban electric lines were built across the nation, reaching a peak of 15,580 miles in 1916.

Although people marveled at the changes from the electrical revolution, for a generation rival power companies wasted resources fighting each other. For example, different firms erected their own power lines, resulting in a maze of electric, telephone, and trolley lines in Salt Lake City. Plants remained small and inefficient, and rural consumers seldom received power. McCormick called it a "nightmare."

Well into the 20th century, consumers could get electricity only part-time. When the moon was bright, the lights went out in Salt Lake City. Plus, power was unreliable because of frequent equipment failure and vandalism. At the turn of the century, only about 20 Utah communities in nine of the state's 27 counties had electricity.

Early 20th-Century Incorporation

On September 6, 1912, Utah Power & Light Company was incorporated in Maine as a subsidiary of Electric Bond and Share Corporation (EBASCO). General Electric (GE) had started EBASCO in 1905 as a New York City holding company to consolidate small power companies in Utah, Idaho, and Colorado into stable entities that could purchase GE-manufactured equipment. EBASCO's 200-plus operating companies in 30 states supplied 14 percent of the nation's power in the mid-1920s.

Such consolidation was a major trend in the electrical industry in the early 20th century. By 1929, 16 holding companies provided more than 80 percent of the nation's electricity. Smaller firms simply did not have the capital and could not attract enough investors for the increasingly complex technology and huge service areas that needed access to electricity.

UP&L on November 22, 1912 acquired Telluride Power Company with its five power plants that served southeastern Idaho, western Colorado, and northern Utah. Telluride had started and UP&L finished a major hydroelectric and irrigation project on Bear Lake that McCormick said was "one of the first multipurpose reclamation developments in the nation." On February 7, 1913 Utah Power purchased another major firm, Knight Consolidated Power, started by Provo's Jesse Knight to provide electricity to his mines mainly in the Tintic Mining District south of Provo. Two months later, in April 1913, UP&L purchased Idaho Power and Transportation Company, Ltd. with its three plants serving customers in southeastern Idaho. And then in 1915 Utah Power made its fourth major early acquisition, that of Utah Light and Traction, which operated five power plants for Salt Lake City customers.

Utah Power eventually acquired some 130 companies. In addition to the four major acquisitions, it purchased shortly after its founding the Park City Light, Heat, and Power Company; Preston, Idaho's Idaho-Utah Electric Company; Shelley, Idaho's Gem State Light and Power Company; Provo's The Electric Company; the Camp Floyd Electric Company in Mercur, Utah; and several other small firms in Utah and Idaho. By 1922 UP&L operated 40 generating plants and had nearly doubled its miles of power lines to integrate its system. About half of its total capacity came from its Bear River hydroelectric plants.

The company also emphasized stimulating demand for power in its early years. Its Sales Department told consumers electricity was necessary for modern life, not just a luxury for the rich. It advertised the benefits of electric fans, blankets, irons, and toasters produced initially after the turn of the century. Since few dealers were available, the company sold and serviced electric stoves and refrigerators. To appeal to the new generation, it placed appliances such as stoves in public schools for cooking classes. Utah Power demonstrated the new labor-saving devices in schools and churches and even on sidewalks. In 1917 UP&L produced two movies promoting the advantages of electricity, not only for lighting, but for electric sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, and other new equipment.

Meanwhile, most industries, from mines to cement factories, had been electrified by 1922. That included agriculture, which increasingly used electric pumps for irrigation. UP&L pushed city lights to prevent crime.

World War I stressed the company due to labor and material shortages. Women helped make up for the men who left for the military after the Congress declared war in 1917.

The Twenties and the Great Depression

Utah Power enjoyed prosperity in the Roaring Twenties, when many American corporations increased their production and stock prices rose for many years. UP&L built three new plants in the 1920s, including its first steam plant, which marked the start of the declining role for hydroelectricity. It acquired 17 small power firms in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming between 1922 and 1929.

The only negative aspect of that era, from the power company's perspective, was the increasing use of cars and trucks, which slowly replaced the electric trolley cars and interurban trains. According to McCormick, trolley use in Utah peaked in 1914 when only 6,216 cars were registered in the state. By 1929 Utah residents registered 112,000 cars, and the number of trolley passengers had declined rapidly. The power company tried a hybrid vehicle. In 1928 it pioneered the use of a rubber-tired trolley bus powered by overhead electrical lines. To gain further flexibility, internal combustion engines replaced the electrical lines, resulting in the modern bus that could go anywhere.

In 1929 the Great Depression began, and Utah Power suffered along with the rest of the nation. Utah's unemployment rate in 1932 reached 35.8 percent, the fourth highest in the United States. UP&L's customers, revenues, and kilowatt hours all began to decline in 1929. Plus, the company from 1932 to 1940 doubled its taxes to all levels of government and was forced in the 1930s to reduce its power rates by Utah's Public Service Commission. In 1935 Utah Power admitted that "it had been fighting for its very existence" for the previous five years. Provo and also Delta, Colorado rejected UP&L during the Depression in favor of their own municipal power agencies; the power company succeeded in defeating similar proposals in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Montrose, Colorado.

UP&L survived the depression by drastically cutting its work force and the wages of its remaining workers. The company also eliminated salaries for board members, reduced dividends, and ended its free services on electrical appliances.

Increasing Demand from World War II

The Great Depression finally ended as the United States prepared to fight World War II. UP&L geared up to meet the electrical needs of the state's new military bases and defense-related companies. In the company's history book, UP&L's former President E. M. Naughton said, "The nineteen-forties were a busy time for the people of Utah Power & Light. In many ways it was like a three-ring circus."

New military installations needing power included Fort Douglas, Camp Kearns, Wendover Air Force Base, Ogden Arsenal, Hill Field's General Depot, Clearfield Naval Supply Depot, Tooele Army Depot, Dugway Proving Ground, and the Deseret Chemical Depot. The federal government built the huge Geneva Steel plant in Utah County, which was sold after World War II to U.S. Steel. Other defense plants that helped increase power demands included Salt Lake City's Remington Small Arms Plant with peak employment of 10,000, the Eitel McCullough Radio Tube Plant, and the Standard Parachute Company in Manti.

Such plants had to work around the clock, so Utah Power had to scramble to keep its systems working. That proved rather difficult because of war shortages of copper, steel, and rubber. The company sometimes was forced to use substitutes, for example, iron for copper. Meter readers used bicycles instead of cars. Overtime was common for Utah Power workers, not surprising in light of the 27 percent increase in output between 1940 and 1943.

Postwar Developments as an Independent Firm

As required by the 1935 Public Utility Holding Company Act, Utah Power on January 1, 1946 changed from an EBASCO subsidiary to an independent company with a new board of local directors. They led a company that for the next 20 years or so kept prices low and enjoyed steady expansion and prosperity. By 1967 its customers numbered 275,000, about double from the 140,000 in 1945.

Using mainly new coal-fired plants, Utah Power had doubled its 1945 output by 1954 and then again doubled that capacity by 1963, when it could produce 1,064,275 kilowatts. The company spent $313 million from the end of the war to 1967 on new construction. For example, it spent $6 million to build at the mouth of Provo Canyon the second unit of the Hale Plant, with generating capacity of 44,000 kilowatts. Coal for the Hale Plant and other facilities came mostly from Utah's Carbon County, a major coal source since the late 1800s.

After not advertising during World War II, Utah Power renewed that effort in the postwar years. It promoted "Better Living Electrically" by emphasizing the benefits of television in the late 1940s and the 1950s, air conditioning starting in the late 1950s, and the all-electric home in the 1960s. The company in 1953 started a national advertising program to attract new businesses to Utah, citing the area's abundant natural resources, open spaces, good transportation, and numerous recreation opportunities.

The 1960s brought some major changes to Utah Power. The firm began using mainframe computers in 1961 to automate its accounting. Half of the firm's 31 hydroelectric plants by 1964 were unattended because of computerization. Centralized computers in 1966 controlled the company's electrical production and transmission to gain the best balance of fuel prices and efficiency, system security, and power purchases from outside companies. In addition, a microwave radio system improved communication between power plants, substations, and company headquarters.

In 1958 Utah Power began participating in the development of atomic energy. Along with 51 other utilities, it formed High Temperature Reactor Development Associates, Inc. (HTRDA) to fund research and development of a new plant. HTRDA, General Atomic, Bechtel Corporation, and the Philadelphia Electric Company built and operated the nation's first gas-cooled nuclear plant built by private enterprise. Nuclear energy did not, however, fulfill the high hopes of UP&L President G. M. Gadsby, who in the firm's corporate history said, "With the availability of a great new energy source, atomic power, the millennium of physical comfort is almost at hand."

The Difficult 1970s and 1980s

Starting around 1970, UP&L faced some major challenges fueled by rapid population growth. Its customer base expanded from 282,000 in 1968 to almost 500,000 in 1984. To meet the demand, Utah Power built some huge and very expensive plants: the third Naughton Plant unit near Kemmerer, Wyoming and five 400,000-kilowatt units at the Huntington and Hunter plants in Emery County, Utah. To save money on these and other coal-fired plants, Utah Power in the early 1970s began purchasing its own coal mines with several hundred million tons of reserves. By the early 1980s only about five percent of its power came from hydroelectric dams, compared with 90 percent in 1946.

This expansion cost consumers a pretty penny. Starting in 1971, the Utah Public Service Commission allowed UP&L to raise its rates every year due to increasing inflation. For example, between 1975 and 1980 the cost of coal increased 150 percent. Its new plants cost the firm $1,000 per kilowatt, far more than the $129 per kilowatt to build the oldest of the 13 steam-generating plants it owned in 1980.

Not surprisingly, many complained about rising power rates. That kept Utah Power's public relations staff busy trying to explain why the increases were necessary. For example, the company told how increasing environmental regulations impacted power rates. Utah Power also started programs to help those struggling to pay their utility bill. It started in 1983 the Project Share program that was administered by the Red Cross to help the needy. And it began working with social workers to help families contact state and local government agencies that provided help not only for electrical bills, but also for medical care and other assistance.

After the Arab oil embargo in 1973, Utah Power implemented an energy conservation policy that was just the opposite of what was done in the early 20th century. It published booklets and gave demonstrations on how to save energy. It worked with architects and contractors to help them design and build more energy-efficient structures. Houses became more air-tight and thus saved energy, but that also resulted in increased indoor air pollution as an unintended side effect.

Like other energy companies around the world, Utah Power in the 1970s began exploring alternative energy sources, including solar power and the possibility of using garbage to create energy. It built one of the nation's first geothermal plants in 1984. Located at the Roosevelt Hot Springs near Milford, Utah, this geothermal plant had a capacity of 20,000 kilowatts. The company in 1984 also formed a wholly owned subsidiary called Energy National, Inc. to explore alternative energy sources.

In 1975 Utah Power sold its subsidiary Western Colorado Power Company for $20.7 million to a group of four rural cooperatives called the Western Colorado Power Agency. The sale had little impact on UP&L, however, because the subsidiary accounted for only two percent of its income.

Acquisition, Deregulation, and Diversification: Late 1980s--90s

In 1987 UP&L and PacifiCorp announced they had agreed to merge in a $1.85 billion stock swap. Utah Power had considered merging with other utilities, including Public Service Company of New Mexico. Headquartered in Portland, PacifiCorp originated in 1910, about the same time as UP&L. The agreement allowed Utah Power to retain its name and Salt Lake City offices, but it would operate as a PacifiCorp subsidiary. Verl Topham, UP&L's president/CEO, became a board member of PacifiCorp.

This deal was not finalized until 1989 because of regulatory requirements. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission required PacifiCorp to open its power lines to independent producers under certain situations. In spite of criticism from other power companies, PacifiCorp agreed in order to gain the advantages of merging with UP&L. PacifiCorp gained access through UP&L lines to distribute its power to California and the Southwest. PacifiCorp, whose demand peaked in winter, and UP&L, with peak demands in the summer, both benefited from the merger. In 1989 PacifiCorp received 37.2 percent of its electricity revenues from Utah customers and 29.6 percent from Oregon.

In December 1995 Utah Power announced it would close 13 customer service offices in Utah and five in Idaho to cut costs and expand modern payment options. Company representatives said that 85 percent of the firm's customers already used the mail system or phones to make payments and that UP&L would expand the use of electronic transfers and 24-hour telephone services.

In 1996 California started a new trend by passing legislation deregulating the energy industry. According to the power industry in December 1998, 12 states had passed laws allowing what it called retail choice in power. Utah was not on the list, but its lawmakers had looked into energy deregulation. Utah Power supported deregulation, since power from any producer would be transmitted over its lines. At the end of the century, it was a major issue faced by Utah Power and its parent company PacifiCorp.

To prepare for deregulation, PacifiCorp and Utah Power in 1997 diversified their services and products, with advice from the law firm Stoel Rives LLP. Offered to all PacifiCorp customers in its seven-state market, this new "Simple Choice" program included new payment options, extended appliance warranties, surge suppressors, DISH Network Satellite TV, carbon monoxide detectors, and payment protection in case of customers' death, disability, or unemployment. Other new items included cell phones, paging, wireless modems, Internet services, home security services, a parts hotline, and on-call repair assistance for the do-it-yourself consumer.

In 1998 Utah Power began building 12 substations to power the Utah Transit Authority's light rail system from downtown Salt Lake City to the suburb of Sandy. Thus the company came full circle by again supplying power to electric trains that were so crucial in its early history around the turn of the century.

In December 1998 company representatives announced that Scotland-based ScottishPower plc had agreed to purchase PacifiCorp, pending approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and state regulatory bodies. If accepted, the deal was reported to be the first time a foreign company purchased an entire American electric firm. Utah Power spokesmen stated, however, that the firm's 580,000 Utah customers would not see many changes and that UP&L would continue as a PacifiCorp subsidiary.

Additional Reading

  • Lewis, Scott M., "PacifiCorp," in International Directory of Company Histories, Detroit: St. James Press, 1992, pp. 688--90.
  • McCormick, John S., The Power to Make Good Things Happen: Past, Present, Future: The History of Utah Power and Light Company, Salt Lake City: UP&L, 1990.
  • Oberbeck, Steven, "Sale of PacifiCorp Is Far from a Done Deal," Salt Lake Tribune, December 8, 1998, pp. B10, B14.
  • "Pacificorp Receives Utah Rate Reduction Order," PR Newswire, March 5, 1999.
  • "Revolution in the Power Industry," Forbes (special advertising section), December 14, 1998.
  • Thomson, Linda, "Deregulation Is a Highly Charged Issue," Deseret News (Web Edition), May 29, 1997.
  • ----, "Utah Power Gives Push to 'Simple Choice,"' Deseret News (Web Edition), May 30, 1997

Lehman Brothers Collection

The following comes from the Lehman Brothers Collection (mirrored without permission from Lehman Brothers Collection at Harvard Business School's Baker Library; source) (In case source becomes unavailable)

Utah Power & Light Company was organized on September 6, 1912, as a subsidiary of a large holding company, Electric Bond and Share Company (EBASCO) of New York, to consolidate dozens of large and small electric power companies in Utah and surrounding states. Holding companies were increasingly popular in the United States beginning in the early twentieth century and reached their peak in the 1920s. They were particularly prevalent with the utility industry. By 1929 a group of sixteen generated over 80 percent of all electric energy in the country, and three systems accounted for over 45 percent.

Following its formation, Utah Power set out to acquire other electric companies and unify them into one large integrated "super power system" rather than operate them as separate, independent entities. Within four years it had purchased twenty-seven utility companies and eventually absorbed more than 130. By 1922, on its tenth anniversary, Utah Power had made considerable progress towards its goal. It served 205 communities in four states, had 83,000 customers, and operated forty generating plants with an installed capacity of 224,000 kilowatts. Four newly built or expanded plants on the Bear River provided half of that capacity. Each of the forty plants was connected through a system of high-voltage transmission lines with a new main distribution center in Salt Lake City. Many other new substations were built during this period, and distribution lines were upgraded and extended. Bear Lake was developed as a storage reservoir, with twenty-three miles of inlet and outlet channels that carried the entire flow of the Bear River in and out of the lake, and a pumping station, capable of delivering 3,000 acre-feet of water per day, was built at the north end.

The 1920s were financially stable times for Utah Power. Gross revenues between 1923 and 1927 ranged from $10.1 million in 1923 to $11.4 million in 1925, $10.6 million in 1927, and $10.8 million in 1928.

In March 1925 Electric Bond and Share Company liquidated Utah Securities Corporation. Utah Securities was a holding company owned by Electric Bond and Share Company, and it was through this subsidiary that Electric Bond controlled Utah Power. After the liquidation, Utah Power became a subsidiary of a new Electric Bond and Share subsidiary, Electric & Power Light Corporation.

In 1930 Utah Power sold $4 million of first mortgage five percent gold bonds, the proceeds of which were used to reimburse the company for expenditures made for additions to property.

Utah Power earned $1.36 million on operating revenues of $11.8 million in 1936.

Utah Power underwent a reorganization plan in 1944 at the encouragement of the S.E.C., whereby Utah Power recapitalized with one class of common stock, which was sold to the public. Utah also acquired and cancelled the shares held by Electric & Power Light. The effect was that Utah was no longer under the control of Electric Power & Light.


Utah Light & Railway Co.

January 2, 1904
Utah Light & Railway Company was organized as a consolidation of Utah Power & Light Company, and Consolidated Railway & Power Company. (Utah Corporation Index 4644)

October 27, 1906
E. H. Harriman closed the deal for the purchase of Utah Light & Railway Company, the street car system in Salt Lake City. Management and operation was to be turned over to the Oregon Short Line Railroad, Harriman's steam railroad in Utah, with the same directors and officers. Harriman was reported to having purchased three-fifths of the stock of Utah Light & Railway Company. (Inter-Mountain Republican, October 28, 1906, "yesterday")

December 1906
E. H. Harriman bought controlling interest in Utah Light & Railway, the street car company in Salt Lake City, operated as a subsidiary of Oregon Short Line. Most of the stock came from the LDS Church, at a reported price of over $10 million. (Arrington: Great Basin, p. 408)

September 6, 1912
Utah Power & Light Company was incorporated in Maine as a subsidiary of Electric Bond and Share Corporation (EBASCO). General Electric (GE) had started EBASCO in 1905 as a New York City holding company to consolidate small power companies in Utah, Idaho, and Colorado into stable entities that could purchase GE-manufactured equipment. By the mid 1920s, EBASCO's 200-plus operating companies in 30 states supplied 14 percent of the nation's power.

Utah Light & Traction Co.

Utah Light & Traction was organized as a subsidiary of Utah Power & Light, to consolidate its interests in Utah Light & Railway and Salt Lake Light & Traction. (R. W. Edwards Notes)

September 18, 1914
An internal history of UL&T showed September 18, 1914 as the date that the property and interests of Utah Light & Railway Co. were taken over by Utah Light & Traction Co. (History of Utah Light & Traction Company, dated September 25, 1939)

October 24, 1914
The sale of Utah Light & Railway: "Local and eastern Capitalists associated with Utah Light & Railway Company of Salt Lake City, and Electric Bond & Share Company, of New York, have purchased from the Harriman system a controlling interest of the Utah Light & Railway Company and have organized the Utah Light & Traction Company to take over the property, the Utah Light & Railway Company passing out of existence by the transaction." (Electrical Review and Western Electrician, October 24, 1914, page 829, accessed via Google Books)

(E. H. Harriman died on September 9, 1909. The sale of Utah Light & Railway in 1914 was by his estate. In March 1911, the Harriman estate had paid inheritance taxes due to the State of Utah in the amount of $798,546.85, and the money became the seed money needed to built Utah's new capitol building in Salt Lake City.)

January 2, 1915
Utah Light & Traction Company leased all of its power generation and distribution systems to Utah Power & Light Company. (Utah PSC Case 6-A)

July 13, 1944
Utah Light & Traction Company sold all of its transportation interests and transferred all of its rights to operate streetcars, electric trolley coaches, and gasoline motor buses to Salt Lake City Lines. Utah Light & Traction retained all of the electrical distribution system, including the overhead power distribution system for the Salt Lake City Lines' streetcars and electric trolley coaches. The total price was $675,000; the sale was to be finalized on June 30, 1944; operation commenced at 3 a.m. on June 31, 1944. (Utah PSC Case 2814)

Utah Power & Light Co.

November 25, 1944
The Public Utilities Commission gave its approval for Utah Power & Light Company to assume the electric power interests of Utah Light & Traction Company. (Utah PSC Case 2814) (These electrical interests included the electric power distribution system for the streetcar system in Salt Lake City.)

In case 2652, the Commission approved the consolidation of Utah Power & Light's and Utah Light & Traction's electric properties.

August 1945
Last street car route removed from service. Regulators had given their approval in March 1941, but the streetcars remained in operation due to World War II.

November 1954
Utah Power & Light constructed its Carbon Steam Generating Plant at Castle Gate in the mid 1950s. The first unit went into operation in November 1954, and the second unit came on line in August 1957. (The Power To Make Good Things Happen, by John McCormick, page 121)

Utah Power & Light Company merged with Pacific Power & Light to form PacifiCorp. Utah

Rocky Mountain Power Co.

March 21, 2006
PacifiCorp was sold by ScottishPower to MidAmerica Energy Holdings Company on May 24, 2005. Regulatory approval was required from six state utility agencies, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the federal Department of Justice for antitrust concerns. Final regulatory approval was received in the week preceding March 21, 2006. Organizational changes after the sale put the electrical generation and coal mining operations under a new PacifiCorp Energy business unit, and all electrical power distribution in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah under the new Rocky Mountain Power business unit. (MidAmerica Energy Holdings press release dated March 21, 2006)

April 2015
Rocky Mountain Power was set to close the carbon Steam Generating Station at Castle Gate, Utah.

April 15, 2015
The following comes from the Portland Tribune, April 15, 2015.

Portland-based PacifiCorp closed its coal plant near Price, Utah, on Wednesday, April 15, as planned.

Known as the Carbon Plant or the Castle Gate Plant, it was commissioned in 1954, 61 years ago, making it the oldest remaining coal plant in PacifiCorp's portfolio. The plant produced 172 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 86,000 homes.

PacifiCorp is replacing the lost power with added natural gas capacity, renewables and energy efficiency projects.

PacifiCorp hasn't built any new coal plants since 1984, and previously closed its Jordan, Hale and Gasby coal plants.

Steam Power Plants

(served by railroads)

Carbon Generating Station

November 1954
Utah Power & Light constructed its Carbon Steam Generating Plant at Castle Gate in the mid 1950s. The first unit went into operation in November 1954, and the second unit came on line in August 1957. (McCormick: UP&L, p. 121)

Construction on the $26 million plant began the summer of 1953. Unit 1, a 75-megawatt unit, was completed in 1954 and Unit 2, a 113-megawatt unit, was built in 1956 and came online in 1957. It operated continuously and longer than any other steam plant in the Utah Power & Light system. The plant was located about two miles north of Helper, Utah, on the east bank of Price River, at what is known as Castle Gate.

Three years after the first generating unit powered up, a second unit became operational, bringing the nameplate capacity of the power plant to 172 megawatts.

UP&L purchased a D&RGW GE 44-ton locomotive in 1954 to switch coal cars at its new Carbon steam power plant near Price, Utah.

Independent Coal & Coke Company sold its coal interests at Castle Gate/Kenilworth and Clear Creek to North American Coal Company in 1968. North American Coal closed the Castle Gate mine in 1972 when Utah Power & Light purchased the Deseret Mine from the LDS church to supply coal for power generation. At its peak the North American mine produced about 650,000 tons, about 375,000 tons of that production was sold to Utah Power & Light and was used at the Carbon Steam Generating Plant. North American Coal sold the same properties to an undisclosed company (Valley Camp) in February 1973. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 1973)

October 21, 2013
Rocky Mountain Power (successor to Utah Power & Light) announced the closure of its Carbon Power Plant at Castle Gate, Utah. The plant was to be closed in April 2015 due to changes in environmetal regulations concerning mercury emissions, and the lack of space where the plant is located, to install the needed smoke stack filters. The plant produces 172 megawatts, and supports 74 jobs. Monday through Friday, 75 trucks delivered coal to feed the plant's 1,800-tons-a-day appetite. A 30-day supply of coal is piled on the site, and is fed into the plant on a conveyor system over U.S. Highway 191. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 21, 2013)

October 30, 2014
Rocky Mountain filed its application seeking utility regulatory authority to discontinue operation and decommission the Company’s Carbon Power Plant coal-fired generation facility. The facility is a coal-fired steam electric generating facility consisting of two units. Unit 1 is a 72 MW unit that began service in 1954 and Unit 2 is a 112 MW unit that went into service in 1957. The Units together utilize Alstom boilers and Westinghouse steam turbine generators. The facility uses an electrostatic precipitator and a cyclonic dust collector to reduce particulate matter emissions from Unit 1 and an electrostatic precipitator for Unit 2. The facility is required to comply with EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards on or before April 16, 2015. The current emissions profiles of the power plant's two units do not meet the EPA limits for all pollutants regulated under the mecury emissions rule. The power plants two units have not been, and cannot economically be, retrofitted with scrubbers, bag houses, or other significant emissions control equipment that would bring the facility into compliance.

April 15, 2015
The Carbon Power Plant was shut down, one day prior to the new mecury emissions rule taking effect on April 16th. (Deseret News, April 14, 2015)

November 25, 2016
"The Carbon Power Plant, once a coal-fired workhorse in PacifiCorp's electrical-generating fleet, is becoming a mound of scrap as crews this week dismantle the 62-year-old two-unit plant in Price Canyon, a few miles outside Helper. The utility retired the 173-megawatt plant a few years early in April 2015 because of the high cost of bringing it into compliance with new mercury-emission rules. The site just east of U.S. Highway 6 will be cleared by next spring, then it will be reclaimed." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 25, 2016)

Hale Power Plant

Utah Power & Light built its Hale plant at the mouth of Provo canyon. As completed, the coal-fired plant had a capacity of 18,750 kilowatts. First known as the Provo Steam Plant, then as the Orem Plant, it became the Hale Plant in 1950, named for J. A. Hale, the longtime vice president and chief of operations. (The Power To Make Good Things Happen, by John McCormick, page 100)

A second unit was added to the Hale plant, adding 44,000 kilowatts capacity to the first unit's capacity of 18,750 kilowatts. (The Power To Make Good Things Happen, by John McCormick, page 100)

UP&L spent $6 million to add a second unit to the Orem Plant at the mouth of Provo Canyon. This second unit of the Hale Plant added a generating capacity of 44,000 kilowatts. Coal for the Hale Plant came mostly from Utah's Carbon County.

The coal fired power plant at Hale, at the mouth of Provo Canyon, and located on the Heber Branch of D&RGW, consumed sixteen cars of coal per day in 1953. (Deseret News, April 20, 1953)

In 1958, UP&L purchased as Army surplus, a Plymouth 20-ton unit, from the Salt Lake City Air Base, to switch coal cars at its Hale power plant near Provo.

The small locomotive used at the Hale plant was built in May 1941 by Fate-Root-Heath (Plymouth) as U. S. Army 7694; its initial assignment was to the Salt Lake City Air Base. It was a Plymouth model ML-6, Type 3 (four-wheel, diesel-mechanical). It was sold in March 1958 to Salt Lake Garfield & Westren as their number G-4. Utah Power & Light purchased the little locomotive in March 1958, and used it to switch coal cars at Hale plant at mouth of Provo Canyon. It was transferred to UP&L's Gadsby Plant in Salt Lake City in 1973, where is was retired in June 1977. UP&L sold it in September 1977 to Southern San Luis Valley, Blanca, Colorado, where is was seen in 1980 out of service and missing its engine. 

The Hale plant was closed.

More Information

Wikipedia entry for PacifiCorp

Utah History Encyclopedia entry for "Electrical Development in Utah"

Utah Light & Traction history as the company transitioned from electric streetcars to gasoline motor coaches.