Utah Power & Light

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This page was last updated on March 6, 2021.

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UP&L History

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)

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 canceled the shares held by Electric & Power Light. The effect was that Utah was no longer under the control of Electric Power & Light.

Funding Universe

(Read a history of Utah Power & Light, mirrored from The Funding Universe.)


The Power To Make Good Things Happen; The History of Utah Power & Light Company by John S. McCormick; published 1990 by Utah Power & Light Company (155 pages, with numerous photos)


(Read more about the Salt Lake City street cars, which were the predecessor companies of Utah 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)

(Read more about Salt Lake City's street car system.)

(Read more about Utah Light & Traction, as the company transitioned from electric streetcars to gasoline motor coaches.)

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)

In September 1973, Utah Power & Light created a new Department of Exploration and Mining "to help assure supply and variety of available power generation fuels." The following comes from the September 1973 issue of Coal Age magazine, page 44:

Utah Power & Light Co. has decided to form a new Department of Exploration & Mining to help assure supply and variety of available power generation fuels. E. A. Hunter, president, said the utility is taking the action because coal lands are becoming more difficult to obtain, and other industries are making strong acquisition moves. Last year. UP&L purchased the Deseret mine from the Latter Day Saints. Operated by American Coal Co., the mine supplies three steam-electric plants—Carbon, Hale and Gadsby.

Donald Watkins, company engineer for the past 22 years, will be manager of the new department. with primary responsibility for initiation and implementation of exploration, acquisition, development and management of fuel and basic energy resources. Shareholders have laid the groundwork for such an organization by amending company articles of incorporation to permit development, use and sale of natural resources including the business of mining, drilling, pumping, piping, producing and selling coal, petroleum, oil and gas, uranium and geothermal energy.

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)

Steam Power Plants

(Read more about the locomotives used by Utah Power & Light at its power plants)

Carbon Generating Station

(Near Helper, 1954 to 2016) (served by rail)

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)

Mark Hemphill wrote on March 6, 2021:

From photos it appears that the power plant received all of its coal by rail at first. They built a steel-framed dump shed with a Link-Belt car shaker (it lowered onto the car by cable when needed) and the 44-tonner purchased from D&RGW rolled the loads downhill from the load yard at the Castle Gate mine, in what appears to be cuts of 4 to 10 cars. I don't know what other mines shipped coal by rail to Carbon Power Plant.

Around 1966, the photos show that the power plant (or the coal mine?) built an elevated conveyor from the Castle Gate mine to the power plant. The track to the dump shed was stubbed on the upstream end because it crossed through the conveyor support. To reach it, cuts would have to be sawed through the tail track in the mouth of Willow Creek Canyon. The dump shed housing that protected the car shaker machinery was removed at that time. From that point on, it appears coal was no longer delivered by rail from the Castle Gate mine, but was occasionally delivered by rail from other mines.

Around 1980, the photos show that the coal delivery area was enlarged substantially and the trackage was removed, and coal began being delivered by truck.

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 environmental 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 mercury 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 mercury emissions rule taking effect on April 16th. (Deseret News, April 14, 2015)

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 Gadsby coal plants.

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 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)

The Carbon Plant was demolished and the site was fully reclaimed by July 2017.

Gadsby Plant

(Salt Lake City, 1955 to today) (served by rail)

(The Gadsby plant is named for George M. Gadsby, president and general manager of Utah Power & Light from February 1929 to July 1954. The plant was formally named for Gadsby in January 1951. Gadsby died on March 29, 1960, at age 73)

August 19, 1950
Utah Power & Light announced construction of what would become the Gadsby plant. (Ogden Standard Examiner, August 20, 1950)

"Salt Lake City, Aug. 19 (AP) -- The Utah Power and Light company said today it will build a new $10,500,000 power plant in Salt Lake City. It is the third major power station in the company's projected $61,000,000 postwar expansion program. President George M. Gadsby said the plant will have a capacity of 75,000 kilowatts, It will be built as an extension to the 66,000 kilowatt steam plant now under construction in Salt Lake City. The 66,000 kilowatt plant will be ready for service in August 1951; the 75,000 kilowatt plant in the fall of 1952."

The Gadsby plant was an expansion of the existing Jordan steam plant, located east of the Jordan River at the same location. Plans to expand the Jordan plant were announced in November 1948. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 21, 1948)

August 1955
"The Gadsby Plant in Salt Lake City was built in three stages, in 1951, 1952, and 1955. Sections one and two were designed to produce 141,000 kilowatts of electricity and section three, 100,000 kilowatts. The total capability of 241,000 kilowatts was more than the entire demand on Utah Power & Light's system in 1947 and illustrated the rapidly accelerating appetite for electricity in the company service area. At the plant's grand opening in August 1955, 10,000 people toured the facility." (The Power To Make Good Things Happen, by John McCormick, page 120)

August 24, 1955
The Gadsby plant took five years to build, at a reported cost of $38 million. (Ogden Standard Examiner, August 24, 1955)

Hale Power Plant

(Provo, 1936 to 1973) (served by rail)

(The Hale plant was named for J. A. Hale, vice president of Utah Power & Light. The plant was formally named for Hale on June 10, 1950. It had previously been known as the Orem Plant. -- Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 1950)

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 & Western 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.

UP&L Hunter Power Plant

(Castle Dale, Utah) (not served by rail)

Construction began in March 1975. Went into operation in June 1978. Formal dedication was held on October 4, 1978, at which time the name was changed from Emery Power Plant, to Hunter Power Plant, named for E. Allan Hunter, president of UP&L at the time.

The Castle Valley Railway of 1976 was proposed to serve the Hunter plant, but the rail line was not built. A two-mile long spur was completed in 1977, and later became known as the C. V. Spur.

(Read more about C. V. Spur)

UP&L Huntington Power Plant

(Huntington, Utah) (not served by rail)

Construction began in March 1971. Went into operation in May 1974, and began selling power commercially in July 1974.

Jordan Steam Plant

(Salt Lake City, 1903 to circa 1973) (served by rail)

According to the Utah Power & Light history, "The Power To Make Good Things Happen," the Jordan Steam Plant was built in 1903 by a predecessor company (Consolidated Railway & Power). It served as the primary power source for street cars. Consolidated and the younger Utah Power & Light merged in 1904 to become Utah Light & Railway. The Jordan Steam plant was supplemented by the first section of the Gadsby plant in 1951, with two later sections coming online in 1952 and 1955.

March 2, 1961
Salt Lake Tribune for March 2, 1961 says units 1 and 2 of the Jordan Steam plant, completed in 1911 and 1912, "are being demolished." The plant required 2.3 pounds of coal to produce one kilowatt. The company's most modern coal-fired plants only required 0.83 pounds of coal per kilowatt. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 2, 1961)

August 27, 1973
The Provo Daily Herald, August 27, 1973, in an article about the EPA starting to issue notices to Utah Power & Light about waste water violations, mentions that the Jordan Steam Plant was on standby, so Unit 1, the biggest stack and last remaining unit, was still standing. (Provo Daily Herald, August 27, 1973)

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.

The Power To Make Good Things Happen; The History of Utah Power & Light Company by John S. McCormick; published 1990 by Utah Power & Light Company (155 pages, with numerous photos)