Utah power supply should be OK

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    By Miriam Oh

    ABCNews.com reported Friday morning that California”s utility crisis would affect the rest of the country.

    But some Utah residents, especially those from the Provo area, need not brace themselves quite yet.

    “Economically, Utah may be affected,” said Kevin Garlick, energy director for Provo City Power. “But as far as blackouts or loss of electricity, there won”t be that much of an impact.”

    Provo City Power, which Garlick says has been keeping a close eye on the situation in California, is sympathetic to the circumstances along the west coast, but feels fortunate that Utah has its own reserve of energy sources.

    The Joint Action Agency, which encompasses six cities including Spanish Fork, Levan, Nephi, Salem, Manti and Provo, is Utah county”s own supplier of power.

    “The Joint Action Agency has a different mix of power supplies that has been consistently stable,” said Garlick. “We have the purchases of enough power plants and hydro-facilities to supply the needs of these cities.”

    Four years ago, when California signed the bill that deregulated electric utilities with hopes for lower consumer power bills, has actually turned into an economic disaster for state residents, as recent events have shown.

    California”s two largest utility companies, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Edison International, have presented a five-year plan that will raise gas and electric rates 26 percent, a hike necessary to dig them out of a $9 billion debt, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

    But Utah County sould not be affected by this. Although Salt Lake City and other areas serviced by PacifiCorp, the parent company of Utah Power, may face a 22 percent rate increase starting February, Garlick said Utah county shouldn”t be too stunned if they have to pay a little extra.

    “Residents here shouldn”t expect rates to go up drastically,” said Garlick. “Prices should stay stable.”

    Although Utah residents have not been pigeon-toed into turning off their lights and lowering the temperature on their thermostats, Wayne Johnson, power plant manager for the Utah Municipal Power Agency, suggests that the idea of a little shivering in the dark is not totally irrational.

    “Because we are on the same energy grid as California, conserving energy here helps the situation in the region over there,” said Johnson.

    Suggestions from utility companies and even campus authorities have advised conservation of energy for all residents.

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