Thursday, July 18, 2019

Embattled company to close a second Utah treatment center for troubled teens

A company that runs treatment centers for troubled teens is closing a second Utah facility following intense scrutiny into the staff’s treatment of young people.

Sequel Youth and Family Services will shutter Mount Pleasant Academy within the next month. The decision comes just days after the company announced it will close Red Rock Canyon School, a St. George treatment center that has come under fire following a riot and recent revelations about the number of staffers accused of assaulting students.

Sequel said that its decision to close Mount Pleasant Academy is not connected to Red Rock or staffing issues, and instead was based on low enrollment. Mount Pleasant Academy is advertised as a 16-bed residential treatment center for teen boys who are struggling with sexual issues. Salt Lake Tribune

A new cash crop – Industrial hemp farm starting first season near Monroe

For several weeks, lines of white plastic on approximately 120 acres near the outskirts of Monroe have fueled rumors. The industrial hemp farm is the result of a number of factors coming together, perhaps the most significant of which is the passage of the 2018 federal farm bill that made farming hemp legal on the Federal level. From there, the operation had to obtain licenses and permits to farm industrial hemp.

One important distinction needs to be made when it comes to hemp — it’s not the same as marijuana used to get high. The farm has to maintain a THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] level of under 0.3 percent. At that level, it would be impossible to feel the psychoactive effects associated with recreational use of marijuana. The goal behind the operation near Monroe is not only to harvest CBD oil, but also to provide quality control in doing so. Richfield Reaper

Latest addition to evolving energy hub announced

Millard County could soon be home to the world’s largest renewable energy storage operation, Gov. Gary Herbert announced during his annual Energy Summit in Salt Lake City.

The project is a partnership between Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), makers of turbines powered by hydrogen and natural gas, and Magnum Development, which is developing a number of fuel storage and delivery ventures near the Intermountain Power Project (IPP).

This new initiative, dubbed the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project, aims to eventually generate up to 1,000 megawatts of 100 percent clean energy— enough electricity to power 150,000 homes for an entire year—on demand utilizing Magnum’s unique underground salt domes to store air under high pressure. Air heats to a high temperature under high pressure or can be heated to power turbines, according to the Energy Storage Association, thus generating zero-carbon electricity during peak demand times, when other renewable sources, such as wind and solar alone, may be unable to meet the needs of power-hungry communities across the West.

The ACES project follows local permitting approval a few weeks ago of the TransWest Express high-voltage power line project, a massive 730-mile power transmission initiative that aims to connect 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy in Wyoming with customers across the western region. A converter station is planned for Millard County as well as 93 miles of line within the county’s borders.

Premium Energy Holdings, a California venture, also filed a preliminary application for a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on May 9 to build a closed-loop, 2,000 megawatt hydro electric power project utilizing Delta’s DMAD Reservoir and a proposed new reservoir in the mountains surrounding Oak City.

The culmination of all these projects would result in Millard County becoming a hub of renewable power generation and transmission initiatives serving the entire western electric grid. Millard County Chronicle Progress

Organic beef harvesting facility looks good to commissioners

The Sanpete County Commission greeted the news of a potential new cattle “harvesting” facility with enthusiasm and hoped the facility will open soon. A representative of American Beef, L.L.C., spoke to the commission about the potential impact opening a beef rendering plant in an abandoned dairy farm would have on the roads adjacent to the plant.

The new plant would aim to take advantage of new markets for “organic and all-natural grass-fed beef” by taking local cattle, raised on grass and without chemical fertilizers, and processing it in an environmentally sensitive manner. It would employ 80 employees, each of whom would be paid at least $15 an hour. The company plans to start installing the plant as soon as August 15, after the county planning commission approves their plans. Sanpete Messenger

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Massive transmission project gets green light

Millard County commissioners approved two conditional use permits last week for an ambitious power transmission project that could deliver $477 million in tax receipts to the county over the life of the endeavor.

TransWest Express (TWE), a subsidiary of Denver-based, privately-held Anschutz Corporation, is planning to start construction next year on a 730-mile power transmission project stretching from wind farms in Wyoming, crossing portions of Colorado and Utah, to a sub-station in Nevada, potentially delivering 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy to customers throughout the Southwest. That amount of electricity is enough to power 1.8 million homes annually. About 93 miles of new transmission line as well as an electric converter station would be located in Millard County. The converter station would be used to convert high voltage direct current electricity into alternating current power. The new power lines would be built mostly on federal lands inside the county. Three percent would stretch across state land and 6 percent would cross private land, according to a permit application on file with the county. Millard County Chronicle Progress

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Where Have All the Young Workers Gone?

Young workers in Utah and the U.S. comprise a smaller share of the labor force

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist
"We should be trying to reach the young workers because that’s when you’re most idealistic and have least fear."  John Lennon

One of the most striking labor market changes of the last decade and a half is the declining participation of teenagers in the labor force. Nationally, teenage participation topped out at almost 59 percent in the late 1970s, and today stands at roughly 36 percent. While the trend isn’t as pronounced in Utah as it is nationwide; here, too, young people are less likely to be employed or looking for work than they were as the century began. The reasons for this phenomena are not clear. However, more after-school activities and increased borrowing to pay for post-secondary education (rather than earning while learning) may factor into this decline.
On the other hand, some characteristics of youth workers have changed little. Utah teens still show some of the highest labor force participation rates in the nation. Also, young people continue to show the highest unemployment rates, the lowest wages and the top turnover rates of any age group.

Observatory adds 260 new detectors; to quadruple search area in cosmic ray quest

The Telescope Array Project—the multinational cosmic ray observatory that calls Delta home—is undergoing an expansion with the placement of double the current number of surface detectors over a wider area. New telescopes are planned for observation posts on Middle Drum and Black Rock Mesa as well.

Starting last month, scientists from the University of Utah and the University of Tokyo began monitoring the placement of about 260 new ground detectors, ping-pong table-sized devices called scintillators. The detectors are being placed by helicopter in the desert north and south of Delta. A couple of hundred more detectors will be placed in the fall, effectively doubling the number of detectors currently in operation.

The expansion, will cost about $4.5 million, most of that funding coming from Japan. Expansion work was slated to begin in January, but was stalled by the recent federal government shutdown. Millard County Chronicle Progress

Wales awarded $600K for new station

Wales has the green light to move forward with a much-needed new fire station after hearing the town will receive more than $600,000 in funding. At a recent town council meeting, leaders discussed the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB) approval of a $500,000 grant and a 20-year loan of $104,000 at 2.5 percent interest.

The new building is planned as an 80-foot by 85-foot (6,800-square-foot) steel structure with three drive-through bays and a concrete floor. The location will be the half-acre lot immediately north of the existing fire station. (The current station is at 150 N. State St.) There are plans for storage space over the office and possibly some rock work on the front of the building facing 200 North. Sanpete Messenger

Sawtooth expansion effort gets nod

Millard County commissioners approved changes to the conditional use permit governing development of a natural gas facility on property zoned for industrial use. Sawtooth Caverns, LLC sought permission to alter a previously approved permit to add property for two new underground storage caverns as well as add property to construct a 3.5 mile pipeline connection to the existing UNEV gas pipeline, a 400-mile pipeline that stretches from Woods Cross to Las Vegas.

The company also sought permission for a petroleum right of way as part of the amended permit. Lastly, the company requested that its name be added as the holder of the permit moving forward.

Sawtooth Caverns had previously gone under the name Magnum NGLs. In March 2011 Magnum Solutions, LLC first asked permission to construct a natural gas storage and distribution facility near Intermountain Power Project’s facilities. By November of that year, the project’s developers were looking to add natural gas liquids storage to the list of allowed uses at the site. Construction of the facility was completed in July 2014. By December 2014, the original use permit was split in two, with one covering gas storage and the other covering natural gas liquids storage, the area now operated by Sawtooth. The amended permit allows Sawtooth to store refined liquid products at the site, in addition to the proposed expansion. Millard County Chronicle Progress