About IPP Renewed
For more than three decades, the Intermountain Power Project (IPP) has served as a model of regional energy cooperation, generating and transmitting coal-fueled electricity to a diverse group of municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives with operations across six U.S. states. As these entities’ current power purchase agreements near expiration, Intermountain Power Agency (IPA) is expanding its role as a regional energy hub, including utilizing renewable energy resources to produce and store hydrogen that can be drawn upon to generate carbon-free electricity.

Currently, renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, is not dispatchable. The transition to a 100% clean energy grid will require generating resources that are dispatchable and energy storage resources with long-term, even seasonal, capabilities, such as hydrogen. IPP’s proximity to the only major geologic salt dome formation in the west makes it the ideal location for siting and scaling up these emerging clean energy technologies.

Dubbed “IPP Renewed,” this transformational project includes the retirement of the existing coal-fueled units at the IPP site; installation of new natural gas-fueled electricity generating units capable of utilizing hydrogen for 840 megawatts net generation output; modernization of IPP’s Southern Transmission System linking IPP to Southern California; and the development of hydrogen production and long-term storage capabilities. Upon buildout of these facilities (see “Project Schedule”), IPP will use renewable energy-powered electrolysis to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, storing the latter in underground salt caverns for use as fuel to drive electricity-generating turbines. The new natural gas generating units will be designed to utilize 30 percent hydrogen fuel at start-up, transitioning to 100 percent hydrogen fuel by 2045 as technology improves.

Plans for IPP Renewed have been in development for over a decade by IPP participants. Going forward, these entities will continue to play key roles in the implementation of the project:

  • Intermountain Power Agency–a political subdivision of the State of Utah with municipalities as members–is the project owner.
  • Intermountain Power Service Corporation employs the people who work at IPP.
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power—the largest purchaser of electricity from IPP—also serves as the Operating Agent and Project Manager.

Project Schedule
Permitting and project design activities commenced in 2019, and the design of key facilities is well underway. Site preparation and construction is slated to begin in 2022, with new electricity generating units beginning commercial operation in July 2025.

The estimated dates of completion for the project’s major milestones are as enumerated below (items with check-marks have already been completed):

Use of Existing Infrastructure

The Intermountain Power Project’s 4,614-acre site near Delta, Utah, is home to substantial existing infrastructure as well as an abundance of space in which to build the additional facilities that will be required going forward. In addition to land and skilled people, existing infrastructure and resources include ample water, two major electricity transmission systems, a microwave communications system, access to railroad and highway transportation, close proximity to existing interstate pipelines, and a site located directly over the only high-quality geologic salt dome in the Western United States.

The geologic salt dome, which is already being used for storage of liquid fuels in solution-mined caverns deep underground, provides opportunities for grid-scale real-time and seasonal energy storage.

A key element of the renewal project is the modernization of the 2,400-megawatt-capacity Southern Transmission System. That high-voltage transmission system provides a direct-current link from the IPP site to Southern California and represents a critical element in the delivery of renewable electricity to the Western U.S. power grid.

Supporting Local Communities
Since IPP commenced operations, it has served as an economic engine for Utah. The Utah Foundation reported that IPP, through a multiplier effect, makes an average contribution per year of $866 million in economic activity to the state of Utah, providing 4,600 non-farm jobs and $222 million in household earnings. IPA has paid approximately $700 million in direct tax payments to Utah and Utah communities.

With that history of community involvement, rather than walk away when the coal units close—a situation currently faced by many coal communities nationwide—IPA and the other project participants have diligently worked to develop new energy projects that could build upon the substantial infrastructure already in place at IPP. Those efforts led to the IPP Renewed project and new investments in the local and regional economy.

Specifically, IPP Renewed construction is expected to employ roughly 800 workers, with peak employment in 2023. Once online in 2025, the new generating units will help preserve operating jobs that would otherwise have been lost when the coal units close. Making Millard County a world-recognized center for green hydrogen deployment also provides opportunities for additional economic development supporting hydrogen-using industries as diverse as transportation, steelmaking, and chemicals manufacturing.

About Green Hydrogen
A key feature of the IPP Renewed project is the plan to utilize “green” hydrogen. Unlike hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis—extracting hydrogen from water—using renewable energy sources (such as wind, solar, and geothermal) to power the process.

Hydrogen can be used to fuel electricity generation and produces none of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change. Hydrogen can also be stored for later use. And unlike batteries, which can store electricity for hours, hydrogen can be stored for many months. This can facilitate seasonal energy storage, saving up energy produced from renewable resources whenever they are abundant for use in summer or winter months when renewable energy supplies may run short.

Green hydrogen production costs are expected to plummet over the next several years as projects like IPP Renewed advance in numerous locations around the world. Energy and environmental publications and policymakers around the globe are taking special notice of the IPP Renewed project for its unique advantages in being able to use both existing infrastructure and salt cavern storage potential.

It is worth noting that all of the key components of this project—including the safe production, storage, and utilization of hydrogen—are mature technologies that have been deployed for decades in other industries. IPP Renewed is integrating known technologies and applying them at scale to support clean electricity generation.