Energy Matters Update – July 23, 2009
Another one bites the dust
Clean energy activists combine efforts to defeat dirty coal plant
Four years of multi-pronged efforts by clean energy activists throughout the West have resulted in the official death of a proposed dirty coal plant in Utah known as IPP3. Legislative, regulatory and electoral campaigns were waged and won in at least six states to secure the victory.
In October 2004, the Utah-based Intermountain Power Agency received a state permit to build a 950-megawatt coal plant. The Intermountain Power Project Unit 3 (IPP3) was designed to provide electricity to several California utilities and others belonging to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS).
Then California responded to global warming concerns with a law establishing restrictions on carbon-emitting energy sources. As a result, California utilities started pulling out of pending purchases from IPP3. Notably, the Truckee Donner PUD could have completed its purchase before the law took effect but backed out in the face of overwhelming public outcry.
Thwarted at every turn
So UAMPS set out in search of new buyers, even as its own utilities started to worry about looming carbon emissions costs and as the Utah chapter of the Sierra Club, which had challenged the coal plant’s air quality permit, continued to lead stiff statewide opposition to the plant.
Meanwhile, the NW Energy Coalition and its member and partner organizations worked to keep local utilities out of IPP3:
- Then-Coalition staff member Ken Miller, now clean energy director for the Snake River Alliance, organized successful grassroots opposition to Idaho Falls Power’s planned investment in 25 megawatts of dirty coal power from the proposed plant. The Idaho utility is now looking at energy efficiency and expanding its renewable base instead.
- Coalition staff Steven Weiss worked with Oregon Coalition members to convince the Oregon Public Utility Commission to reject PacifiCorp’s intended use of IPP3 power.
- An intense campaign by Coalition member and partner groups, especially Columbia Riverkeeper, convinced voters in Oregon’s Northern Wasco County PUD to reject investing in IPP3.
Passage of Washington’s emissions performance standard (SB 6001) in 2007 virtually eliminated Washington utilities as potential IPP3 customers. Oregon passed a similar law this year. The last straw was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s July 2 announcement that the city would be coal-power free by 2010.
100 and counting
Seven days later, the Intermountain Power Agency officially killed the new plant proposal. IPP3 is the 100th dirty coal plant scuttled since 2001, according to the Sierra Club.
“The cancellation of IPP Unit 3 is really an indicator of a changing world,” V. John White of the Center of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies in Sacramento told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It reflects a changing need of power customers, increasing awareness of the dirty footprint associated with coal, and strong desire to pursue a new, cleaner direction.”
And it reflects the power we hold when activists and policy advocates across the region work to together for a clean energy future.