Rendering of the NuScale power module (small nuclear reactor) UAMPS will utilize in Idaho. | Courtesy of UAMPS

During City Council meeting in early March, Mayor Mark Johnson discussed some new, innovative power sources for Lehi City. The Lehi Free Press interviewed Joel Eves, head of Lehi City Power Department to learn about this new source of power.

LFP: Can you explain what this new power source is and how it will help Lehi City with its power needs in the future?

Eves: There are two parts to Lehi City Power: infrastructure and resources. We are keeping up with infrastructure needs, but we need to secure additional resources to keep up with the demand. We want to be able to stabilize power prices for our citizens, so we don’t have to depend on market-driven power suppliers. We know our needs will not diminish so we need to secure additional resources.

LFP: Where will you find additional sources of power that will stabilize our supply so that Lehi will not depend on buying market-driven sources that may result in fluctuating pricing?

Eves: Lehi City is part of UAMPS (The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems). This is a membership of 45 entities from Utah, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming. UAMPS presently operates 16 separate projects that provide a variety of power supply, transmission and other services to its members. The members decide whether to participate in UAMPS projects and are not obligated to participate in any specific project.

LFP: How does membership in UAMPS help Lehi City in securing additional power?

Eves: UAMPS decided to develop a Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), anchored by small modular nuclear reactors, to help mitigate the retirement of aging coal plants and to produce clean, emissions-free baseload electricity for the growing needs of members and customers. This facility located in Idaho Falls, Idaho is the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

LFP: How will this help Lehi City?

Eves: We can secure the power we need. If we anticipate running short of power, we can acquire additional power from INL. By diversifying, we can assure Lehi consumers that pricing will stay steady. The INL is built in modules so as demand increases more modules can be added to adapt to supply and demand.

LFP: Is this a safe facility?

Eves: It is heavily regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. INL has the safest technology available.

LFP: Will nuclear power be the only kind of power available?

Eves: The INL will also be using solar fields and wind farms to provide power. With government regulations regarding coal fired power plants being imposed, other power supplies must be used. The U.S. has announced a goal of reducing economy wide carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 to 2030. INL is a step in reaching this goal.

LFP: Are there other goals that Lehi City Power is trying to achieve?

Eves: We want to be responsive to the needs of our citizens. We want to have a response time of 90 minutes for any power outage. While some parts of Lehi rely on Rocky Mountain Power, we look forward to the time when all of Lehi is served by Lehi City Power. We are striving to be more and more self-sufficient.

Eves is a graduate of UVU and BYU. He was a master electrician before getting a MS in Public Administration. He worked for Provo City for over ten years. He has spent 15 years in the utility business and 22 years in power. He is currently a member of the UAMPS board. Eves lives in Springville with his wife and five children.

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