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Of several current proposals on the table for expanding electrical generating capacity in Utah, building a third coal-fired unit at the Intermountain Power Project site near Delta offers an intriguing possibility.

Foremost, much of the infrastructure for a new unit is already in place – planned for and put there when IPP was built in the mid-1980s. The $1.75 billion dollar addition would boost Utah’s economy, especially through job creation during construction. And expanded capacity would likely keep the cost of electricity in Utah relatively low while meeting anticipated municipal needs for another couple of decades.

The big question at this stage is whether it can be done without adversely affecting the air we breathe. From an environmental perspective, is coal-fired electrical power generation still viable or is it outmoded? Can cleaner alternative sources of renewable energy such as wind-generated power be developed at levels to adequately meet consumer demands?

Answers may be forthcoming between now and mid-May as Utah’s Division of Air Quality accepts public comment on its announced intent to approve the project.

While IPP has a lot going for it, KSL believes it must be determined to be safe, if more emissions from a coal-fired plant are to flow into the air Utahns breath. The benefits of such a facility clearly must outweigh any potential health and environmental hazards.

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