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As Carbon Free Power Project Continues, Mixed Feelings Abound

The Carbon Free Power Project, owned by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), aims to provide the region with nuclear energy by 2030. Yet, with a seventh municipality voting to leave the project last week, feelings about the initiative are mixed.

“Our decision was based on some changes in numbers, and some changes in the budget that we felt weren't really sustainable for Logan city. We felt strongly that, you know, indeed, that might be a potential in the future, but we would rather wait. And it's a brand new way of doing things (and we thought) that may be it was better to be constructed by the private sector, rather than obligating taxpayers.” said Logan city council member Jeannie Simmonds.

Logan left the project in August, and since then, six other municipalities have followed suit. Beaver, Bountiful and Heber voted to leave the project last week, and Idaho Falls cut their power purchase commitment in half.

Simmonds said her concerns aren’t limited to monetary costs.

“I personally have concerns that it's going to require so much water to run the plant. And they don't have water rights right now” Simmons said. “There are increased costs in all areas, and I'm worried personally that the water piece is one they're kind of going 'eh.' It’s not an issue that a lot of people talk about."

Yet, with the additional $1.4 billion pledged by the Department of Energy, other municipalities feel the benefits outweigh the costs, and have stuck with the project. Jared Clawson, a Hyrum city council member, worried that with coal plants closing, finding clean, alternate sources of energy is becoming paramount, and that nuclear is a clear option.

“To say I don’t have some reservations, I mean, I do.” Clawson said. “But with coal and stuff going offline, they can do some with natural gas, but depending on what happens as far as fracking and a few things like that go, that could become very expensive also and nuclear is considered a green energy. It’s a reliable, clean source of power.”

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.