Skip to main content

Utes Going Big On Gas Reserves to Boost Economy

The Ute Indian Tribe is developing a gas-powered generation facility to maximize the benefits from its expansive gas reserves.

The Ute Indian Tribe is developing a gas-powered generation facility to maximize the benefits from its expansive gas reserves and to address the growing energy demand in the United States. By vertically integrating its resources, the tribe can improve its economy, create good jobs, and ensure the efficient use of its natural resources. The tribe is also responding to rapidly increasing market demands for more sources of clean and flexible power. A supplemental power supply should reduce electricity costs in Utah and produce more opportunities throughout the Uintah Basin. Current and future generation facilities must continue operating to meet the growing demand for power and accommodate increasing intermittent loads from renewable energy sources.

Development of the tribe’s natural resources has improved the economic opportunities for members of the Ute Indian Tribe. Prosperity and success have become a reality as more jobs are available to tribal members than ever before. But benefits from a tribal generation facility will not be limited to the tribe as both members and non-members must fill the high-skilled jobs that will be created. What benefits the tribe also benefits the regional economy of the Uintah Basin, the State of Utah, and the United States as a whole. Developing the tribe’s resources will strengthen America’s energy independence.

A generation facility will also strengthen the regional economy. For many years, members of the Ute Indian Tribe have contributed millions of dollars to the Basin’s economy each month, especially in Duchesne, Vernal, and Roosevelt. The tribe is an economic driver and one of the single largest job creators in the Basin. Development of the tribe’s resources has been a boon for surrounding communities as it has created hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs and provided a substantial boost to the regional economy. The construction of a gas-fired generation facility on the Reservation is another avenue for the tribe to benefit the Uintah Basin.

The facility will contribute hundreds of millions of dollars directly to the regional economy during construction and operation. When completed, this facility will directly employ approximately 50 full-time employees, most of which will consist of engineering, technical, operational, and management positions. The tribe will hire the best available candidates to fill these positions. The facility will also generate many indirect jobs in the form of infrastructure development such as natural gas pipelines, distribution systems and transmission. Through this facility, the Tribe intends to improve job opportunities in the Uintah Basin.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

The proximity to other generation facilities did not impact the tribe’s decision to pursue development because the location of a generation facility does not determine the destination of the power generated. This is a function of supply and demand. Generators must supply energy to areas of the country where there is an unmet customer need. Depending on the demand of the power generated at the tribe’s facility, the tribe could sell its power to utilities outside of Utah, and intends to examine all available power markets.

Just like any other power producers, the Ute Indian Tribe must comply with the EPA’s emissions guidelines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing fuel-fired electric generating units. The tribe’s proposed facility will be one of the cleanest in the United States. This facility will use less fuel because it combines a gas-powered turbine with a steam turbine to increase efficiency. Its operational flexibility allows for rapid start-ups, minimal shutdown times, and fast and efficient adjustment to varying load demands. This generation facility is especially suited for grids with significant sources of renewable energy, as it can provide a firm power supply to accommodate the intermittent nature of renewables. An additional advantage is that greenhouse gas emissions and ambient air pollutants associated with power generation are significantly reduced. The tribe intends to continue examining the feasibility of developing a generation facility to meet increasing market demand for cleaner sources of energy.