WASHINGTON — Reps. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, are cheering a bill they co-sponsored that could make development of a hydroelectric power plant a possibility in Utah County.

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives by voice vote Tuesday, moves to the Senate, where Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, is expected to introduce it.

The bill would clear the way for the Strawberry Water Users Association to install turbines on Diamond Fork River — part of the Central Utah Project — to generate up to 50 megawatts of electricity.

Currently, the association would be required to pay a reimbursement to the federal government if it develops hydroelectric power on Diamond Fork. That reimbursement would cost the association so much to install the turbines and transmission lines, that there would be no project without the reimbursements removed.

"This bill clears away that already-sunk cost and opens economic opportunity to the development of clean power," Matheson said in a press release.

"This bipartisan bill benefits the environment, the taxpayer and the people of Utah," Chaffetz said in the release. "Congress often speaks of energy security, but today we did something about it."

— Joseph M. Dougherty