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PacifiCorp wants quick OK on adding power capacity

Utility seeks PSC hearing, decision later this month

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PacifiCorp wants the Utah Public Service Commission to act quickly on the utility's request to add power generation capacity at the Gadsby Power Plant in Salt Lake City.

At a scheduling hearing Friday, PacifiCorp attorney Edward Hunter asked for a hearing later this month and a commission decision by Jan. 31.

Gadsby is a "peaker" plant, a gas-fired facility that generates power during high-demand periods. The company wants to add 120 megawatts of capacity — enough to power about 60,000 typical homes — to meet the summer demand.

"We feel a need to get this peaker on by summer if possible," Hunter told commissioners.

The company asked for a schedule that would allow the Division of Public Utilities and Committee of Consumer Services to file memos on the matter by Jan. 18 and have the commission hold a hearing Jan. 24.

Hunter said the utility could respond to any issues in the memos during the hearing.

The company is seeking a certificate of necessity and convenience to add the generation at Gadsby. Such certificates are typical for other utilities, such as telecommunications, and Hunter said they have been granted to PacifiCorp in the past.

Hunter said there is "nothing novel" about the certificates and that they simply confirm that the company has the finances to handle the project, that the project is needed and that the project is the proper alternative to handle the situation.

If approved, the company would add three permanent 40-megawatt units at the plant. Last summer, the company leased temporary gas-fired turbines at Gadsby to boost capacity by 100 megawatts.

The utility has not announced how much the new units will cost or how that cost would be spread among PacifiCorp customers. Most of Gadsby's power is used along the Wasatch Front.

PacifiCorp is one of several companies talking about adding power generation in Utah. Adding a fourth unit at the Hunter Power Plant in Emery County has been discussed in concept, but the company has not decided to go forward on that project.

The Intermountain Power Agency wants to build a third unit, with a capacity of 950 megawatts, at the Intermountain Power Plant in Millard County. If certain legislative amendments are approved this session, the unit could be operational by 2007, serving primarily Utah municipalities.

Deseret Power is considering adding an 80-megawatt unit at its Bonanza Power Plant near Vernal to primarily serve rural electric cooperatives.

Payson city, Questar Energy Trading Co. and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems are teaming up on a 128-megawatt plant for Payson. UAMPS is a wholesale power supplier serving dozens of Utah cities.

The biggest project that has been discussed is a 1,100-megawatt, gas-fired plant in Juab County. Panda Energy International Inc. of Texas has talked about having the plant online by 2004, but other energy companies have wondered aloud if there is enough of an energy need in Utah for such a large plant.

State officials last year issued an energy policy that calls for adding 1,800 to 3,100 megawatts over the next decade. The state now consumes about 3,000 megawatts.

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com