Utah’s first sources of electricity were the rivers of the Wasatch Front. Predecessor companies of Rocky Mountain Power saw the potential for electric power in streams that had driven lumber and grain mills since pioneer times. Today, it is hard to envision modern life without the convenience and reliability of electric power.
Many of those early power plants continue to operate today. Locally, the Stairs and Granite hydroelectric plants in Big Cottonwood Canyon were originally built by predecessors of Rocky Mountain Power’s.
The Stairs plant, located on a cascade on Big Cottonwood Creek called The Stairs, began generating in 1896. The Big Cottonwood Power Co. applied for a franchise to serve Salt Lake City, but the mayor vetoed it. A petition signed by 126 prominent Salt Lake businessmen prompted the city council to pass the franchise over the mayor’s veto. By 1897 the Granite plant was in service farther downstream. Granite was built to increase the supply of electricity for Salt Lake City’s electric trolley lines. Granite got its name from the Granite Paper Mill, which was nearby.
In all its operations, Rocky Mountain Power seeks the wise use of our natural resources. Water for all power plant operations values conservation and close cooperation with local water officials. For example, at the company’s Gadsby plant in downtown Salt Lake City, the company converted the plant exclusively to natural gas fuel in 1991. Water for the generation cycle is recycled many times through the boiler, while water for the cooling cycles uses Jordan River water extensively to minimize the use of city culinary water. At a newer natural gas generating plant, Currant Creek near Mona, Utah, an innovative air-cooling system was selected to greatly reduce the plant’s water requirements.
Always looking to the future, Rocky Mountain Power’s long-range plans look 10 and 20 years ahead, and are completely updated every other year. Our interests focus on productive relationships with stakeholders to craft a vision for resource management and sustainable energy for customers.