Intermountain Generating Station

Located in south-central Utah, the Intermountain Generating Station is a coal burning facility that produces approximately 1800-1900 megawatts of electricity and serves residents and businesses in the Los Angeles, California, area. The power plant is owned by the Intermountain Power Agency and operated by Intermountain Power Service Corporation. Electricity generated by the power station is transmitted along a nearly 500 mile long stretch of high voltage line to the southern California destination.

The Intermountain Generating Station was built in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the first of two units commissioned in 1981. The second unit became operational in 1986 and plans for a third generating unit were halted in 2009 after the company decided to invest in the expansion and development of other power station holdings. This was seen as a victory for those opposed to an additional coal-fired unit in the vicinity; despite the power station’s somewhat remote location, the effects of its nominal pollution has been noted in various communities and in nearby Capitol Reef National Park.

The plant facility itself is situated on an area covering 4,614 acres, contains a 301 ft. high boiler structure and a 701 ft. tall chimney. A large cooling water reservoir was constructed adjacent to the power station and is used to feed both the boilers and condenser chamber water jackets. A total of 37 cooperatives and utility companies participate in contracts to use the electricity generated at the power plant. The parent company Intermountain Power Agency has itself been in existence since 1977, and its membership consists of the utility companies operated in over 20 different municipalities in the state of Utah.

Electrical power plants such as Intermountain Generating Station have long relied on material like asbestos for insulating purposes. While asbestos, a naturally occurring substance that consists of fine silicate fibers, is an effective flame retardant and heat-shielding compound, it can be extremely hazardous to human health. Asbestos was used not only because of its effectiveness in insulating steam pipes, walls and ceilings, but also because it is very inexpensive.

As buildings age, asbestos fibers become loosened and often remain airborne. Inhaled by plant workers or carried home in shoes, socks or trapped in the hair, asbestos can then become a danger to others in the household. Mesothelioma, asbestosis and other serious ailments are now known to be caused by long-term exposure and inhalation of asbestos. The symptoms of these diseases often are not seen for many years after exposure, and past employees of the Intermountain Power Service Corporation may have suffered exposure in past decades but are not yet showing signs of illness.