New power plant could improve Utah County air quality

PROVO, Utah (News4Utah) - While many Salt Lake County residents have been complaining about hazy, dirty air, people in Provo have actually been breathing better this winter. It’s all because of a new, state-of-the-art power plant.

Officials in Utah County are calling it a breath of fresh air!

Just under Y Mountain in Provo City sits the brand new, modern Provo Power building. It’s in stark contrast to what sat in the exact same spot for 76 years.

If you live in Utah County, you probably remember those smoke stacks at the old power plant coming down in 2016. The city wanted to be more energy conscious and it wanted to invest in better air.

“Everything was crumbling down around us, so we decided it was best to start from ground zero and build a new plant,” said Kat Kinford, with Provo City Power.

To talk about the changes to the poor air quality outside, you must venture inside the facility.

Just finished in December, Utah Municipal Power Agency has built something Utah has never seen before: the cleanest emission control technology with the most efficient generating equipment available. It means the way of the future has far less pollutants.

"It gives you cleaner air, reduces smog, less asthma attacks, you can breathe cleaner, it allows you to go outside on cold days and not have pollution to be concerned about,” said Ken Green, Wheeler Machinery.

Choosing to use natural gas locally supplied by Summit Energy, the plant is 97 percent cleaner than the older one. That means people in Provo can now say “see ya” to a big chunk of bad air.

"Provo has a lot cleaner air today than what it was when the old plant was in existence,” said Green.

This report begs the question: Why isn’t every city doing this? The answer is there is an initial investment, so as cities need to upgrade their equipment, more and more of them are considering it.

Lehi City’s new power plant is expected to be up and running by summer 2018. Experts say this means not only cleaner air, but cost savings over time because it runs more efficiently.

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