A third unit at the Intermountain Power Project near Delta could enter the planning stage in the near future.

The Intermountain Power Agency, a group of 23 Utah municipal utilities that financed, constructed and operates the $5.5 billion plant, is considering forming a feasibility study committee to consider the idea.At present, the Utah utilities and 13 other municipal and rural utilities participating in the project are selling the bulk of the power produced by the two 800 megawatt units to Southern California. It is unlikely the Utah utilities will have need for additional power before the year 2000.

Reece D. Nielsen, IPA board chairman, said several options are available, including using a non-participant to construct the unit, using an independent power producer or for IPA to develop the unit itself and sell the power to other markets.

IPA has had a good relationship with local and state government for the most part in recent years. A suggestion that IPP might test coal from Wyoming as a fuel source for future use touched off a mild controversy, including threats of legal action and economic sanctions.

At the heart of the controversy was a "handshake" agreement that IPP would use only Utah coal as a fuel source. IPA officials now say they intend to stand by the gentleman's agreement.