Utah Power & Light Co. is aiming for a spring startup of its 35-year-old Gadsby Power Plant on North Temple at 1200 West that was shut down in 1985-86 when management decided the 241 megawatts of power it produces were no longer needed.
Gadsby was a coal burner when it was phased out five years ago, but the current plan is to bring it back on line fueled by natural gas if an acceptable supply can be found, said UP&L spokesman John Ser-fus-tini.He said he doubted that bringing the plant back onto the grid would create many new jobs. "Some people (who were laid off at the shutdown) would be called back, and some already in the system would have to go in," said Serfustini. "That would mean a lag time getting the crews up to speed."
He said there has not yet been a formal company announcement on the planned start-up of Gadsby and its three units.
The reason for bringing Gadsby back is growth in the company's market area, said Serfustini. "Right now, our power plants are running to 80 percent capacity - near the maximum of what they are capable. Bringing Gadsby back on line will give them a breather."
When it was completed in 1955, Gadsby was considered the company's "flagship," said Serfustini. Today it would be classified as a small plant.
The shutdown began in November 1985, when the first generating unit was stopped and the other two put on reduced load. In 1986, the other two were shut down.
But the plant has been maintained and kept on reserve status, said Serfustini, because of inflated costs of new construction. Built at a cost of $38 million in the 1950s, he said the company estimates it would cost as much as $500 million to replace today.
"Someone suggested we put a sticker on the plant that says, "Don't laugh, it's paid for," said Serfustini.
He said air pollution was not a factor in the original decision to close Gadsby, although there were some problems with smoke and coal dust. With natural gas, there would be no pollution problems, he said.
But he would not rule out that Gadsby would come back on line fueled by coal if a viable natural gas source cannot be negotiated. "I can't commit (the company) to that (not using coal), but right now it's natural gas. It can burn coal and someday that may be a possibility, but no one is saying right now."
Is there irony in the electrical company buying fuel from the gas company - its traditional competitor for the hearts of energy users? Not really, said Serfustini.
"Let's face it, natural gas is a decent fuel, but it's no substitute for electricity when it comes to running the TV set."