The tiniest hydroelectric power plant ever authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is no more.
Utah Power & Light Co. has mailed out notifications to federal and state agencies that it proposes to surrender its rights to generate hydropower at the Huntington Power Plant, 18 miles up Huntington Canyon from the Emery County town of the same name.Hydropower? At one of the company's great coal-fired generating plants?
Around six years ago, UP&L had the idea that it could squeeze out a little more electricity by mounting a generator in the outlet works of Electric Lake, which was formed by building a dam across Huntington Creek. Electric Lake provides water to cool the two powerful coal burners.
The hydro unit generated a minuscule five kilowatts by tapping into the outlet stream. When water was pumped from the lake, it turned a small generator, providing enough electricity for security lighting, standby power for valve controls, a weather station and the dam's gauge house.
To do this, UP&L had to obtain permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and had to go through a formal procedure of getting comments on the proposal.
"You have to go through a notification and consultation process with all agencies," Jim S. Burruss, environmental analyst for UP&L, told the Deseret News Friday.
On June 28, 1984, FERC granted permission. No transmission lines had to be built, no modifications were made to the dam or the outlet works, no extra discharges of water from the dam were required.
"The tiny hydroelectric generating unit was simply carried up the valve chamber by company employees and connected," Burruss wrote. This happened on Dec. 26, 1985.
The plant was far smaller than any of the other 22 hydro units that UP&L operates in Utah and Idaho. In fact, Burruss wrote that it is the smallest that FERC has ever licensed or allowed by exemption.
But soon after the generator was installed, it quit working. Last year, it was removed from the valve chamber.
It had been damaged by the constant exposure to dampness.
"Then the company evaluated putting in a larger unit, and we determined that it was going to require refabrication and major expenditure, as far as repiping work and major reconstruction of the dam," Burruss said.
"It just wasn't economical."
The power company gave up on the idea. But it wasn't as simple as just disconnecting the generator.
To surrender its rights to the five kilowatts, federal red tape requires the company to jump through the same hoops it negotiated as when it asked for permission in the first place.
On Nov. 16, UP&L wrote letters to the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the state's Resource Development and Coordinating Committee.
"Since we would like to notify FERC of our surrender by the end of the year, we would appreciate your response and any comments you have to this letter . . . at your earliest convenience," Burruss wrote.
So barring any unforeseen objection, the power company will soon give up a smidgen of its generating rights.