Bonanza power station

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Bonanza power station is a 499.5-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by the Deseret Power Electric Cooperative near Vernal, Utah.


The plant is located south of Vernal near the Utah-Colorado border, about 170 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
The plant is build on tribal territory on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Deseret Generation & Transmission Company
  • Parent Company: Deseret Power Electric Cooperative (96.25%), Utah Municipal Power Agency (3.75%)[1]
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 499.5 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 499.5 MW (1986)
  • Location: 12500 East 25500 South, Vernal, UT 84078
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.086497, -109.286374
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Deserado Mine (Blue Mountain Energy)[2]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 1 is scheduled for retirement in december 2030.[3]

Unit Retirement

Unit 1 is planned for retirement in 2030.[4]

The unit could continue to run after 2030 if the plant installed catalytic control technology before the end of 2030.[5]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 4,470,333 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 864 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 7,348 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 45 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Bonanza Power Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[6] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[7]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Bonanza Power Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 3 $21,000,000
Heart attacks 4 $480,000
Asthma attacks 56 $3,000
Hospital admissions 2 $47,000
Chronic bronchitis 2 $870,000
Asthma ER visits 3 <$1,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Proposed addition

An 86 megawatt (MW) addition was to be located next to the 468 MW Bonanza Power Plant, on Bureau of Indian Affairs land. It was to be constructed by Deseret Power Electric Cooperative; construction of the plant has been contracted to the Fluor Corporation.[8] Western Resource Advocates, the Sierra Club, and Environmental Defense have appealed the state air permit, on the grounds that it did not consider CO2 emissions.


On Aug. 31, 2007, the U.S. EPA issued the final Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit for the project. This was the first such approval by the EPA since April 2007, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA has argued that that ruling gave it the authority to regulate emissions from mobile sources, such as cars, but not from stationary sources such as power plants.[9]

On Oct. 1, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, and Western Resource Advocates filed suit against the EPA, on the basis of the April Supreme Court ruling.[10] This suit will likely be an important and precedent-setting case. U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has also protested the EPA’s decision.[11]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ comments period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement closed on Oct. 9.

On November 21, 2007 the EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) granted the Sierra Club's Petition for Review.

On May 29, 2008 the Board heard the Sierra Club's case against the proposed plant. According to the Sierra Club, "During oral argument, Sierra Club attorney Joanne Spalding urged the board to overturn the air permit issued by the EPA due to the fact that it fails to require any controls for the millions of tons of carbon dioxide that this plant would emit each year; the Clean Air Act clearly states that the EPA must consider CO2 emissions in decisions such as this one."[12]

On November 13, 2008, the Board ruled in favor of the Sierra Club and said that the EPA's Denver office failed to adequately support its decision to issue a permit for the Bonanza plant without requiring controls on carbon dioxide. According to the board, this is "an issue of national scope that has implications far beyond this individual permitting process."[13] Environmentalists and lawyers representing industry groups claim the ruling will have a national effect and may stop the permitting of numerous coal plants.[14]

In January 2010, the Sierra Club reported that there had been no activity by the project's developers since the November 2008 Environmental Appeals Board ruling and that the project appeared to be abandoned.[15]

Project Details

Sponsor: Deseret Power Electric Cooperative
Location: Vernal, Uintah County, UT
Capacity: 86 MW (110 MW gross)
Type: Circulating fluidized bed (waste coal)
Projected in service:
Status: Cancelled

Citizen Groups

Articles and Resources


  1. "Integrated Resource Plan, Five Year Plan, page 25", accessed October 18, 2020
  2. "EIA 923 July 2020" EIA 923 July 2020.
  3. "EIA 860m Database July 2020", accessed October 18, 2020
  4. Planned retirements, Sierra Club, updated March 14, 2016
  6. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  7. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  8. Western Resource Advocates website, accessed January 2008.
  9. EPA, Sierra Club At Odds Over Power Plant Project, Deseret News, September 16, 2007.
  10. Three Wilds Groups Appeal Permit for New Coal-Fired Power Plant, Deseret News, October 9, 2007.
  11. California Lawmaker Chides EPA for Approving Coal Plant, Reuters, September 19, 2007.
  12. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed January 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  13. "Utah coal plant permit blocked by EPA panel",H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press, November 13, 2008.
  14. "A Freeze on New U.S. Coal Plants?", Brian Walsh, Time, November 13, 2008.
  15. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed January 2011

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