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Small power company is suing PacifiCorp over facility upgrade

VERNAL — A small power company is asking a court for big bucks from Utah's largest electricity generator in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed last week.

Deseret Generation & Transmission Cooperative, also known as Deseret Power, which owns 25.1 percent of the Hunter II coal-fired power plant along with PacifiCorp, filed the lawsuit Friday in 8th District Court. It claims that PacifiCorp, the plant's majority owner and operator, made unilateral decisions to make major upgrades to the facility, costing millions of dollars, without Deseret Power's consent.

According to the suit, PacifiCorp, based in Portland, Ore., installed more than $200 million in capital improvements at the Emery County plant but never consulted the minority partner. In addition, the suit claims PacifiCorp made numerous other costly decisions about the management of the facility without getting input from Deseret Power.

The complaint seeks a jury trial to recover unspecified damages and repayment of all expenses related to the complaint, as well and an injunction preventing PacifiCorp from taking energy generated from the facility attributable to Deseret Power without Deseret's written consent.

When contacted by the Deseret News, Deseret Power president and chief executive officer Kimball Rasmussen declined to comment on the pending litigation. In an e-mail to the Deseret News on Monday, PacifiCorp spokesman David Eskelsen said the company "has not yet been served with the complaint."

Headquartered in South Jordan, Deseret Power is a regional generation and transmission cooperative supplying energy to six member retail systems, and selling surplus power to municipalities, power marketers and other wholesale electric systems in five states.

PacifiCorp operates as Rocky Mountain Power in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, and as Pacific Power in northern California, Oregon and Washington. Rocky Mountain Power serves more than 750,000 customers in Utah.

e-mail: jlee@desnews.com