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Front Page » July 13, 2006 » Local News » Company proceeding with Utah Power name change
Published 3,370 days ago

Company proceeding with Utah Power name change

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Utah Power crews focus on restoring electricity to Carbon County residences impacted by the outage on July 6. The Sunday afternoon power outage lasted nearly five hours. The local electricity provider's new brand name - Rocky Mountain Power - will appear on customers' monthly bills starting next week.

Utah Power has changed its name to Rocky Mountain Power, building on a legacy of 94 years of essential public service as a low-cost provider of electricity in the west.

"This change is part of our look toward an exciting future," said Richard Walje, president of Rocky Mountain Power. "Our new brand name reflects a new regional focus on the Intermountain West and our commitment to customers to maintain our position as a low-cost provider of safe, reliable electric service."

PacifiCorp was acquired by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company on March 21. At that time, three business units were announced: Pacific Power in the company's Pacific Northwest territory; Rocky Mountain Power in the company's intermountain states and PacifiCorp Energy for the company's generation and mining operations throughout all six states.

The history of Rocky Mountain Power is in large measure the history of electricity in America.

True to its pioneering origins, Salt Lake City was also a pioneer in the development of electric power.

Despite being still very much a dusty frontier town in 1881, on March 31 of that year, Salt Lake City became the fifth city in the world to install central station electric street lighting, following New York, London, San Francisco and Cleveland.

The city of Ogden followed on May 10, 1881 with central station street lighting of its own, continuing a series of firsts in the American west's electric power industry, resulting from a combination of necessity and nerve.

A predecessor company in 1889 was the first in the world to make commercial use of alternating current (AC) electricity over a long distance.

Until the time in question, direct current (DC) electricity was used almost exclusively. AC was considered a laboratory curiosity - too dangerous for commercial use, explained Rocky Mountain Power officials.

However, DC electricity could only be transmitted about a mile from the generator.

Lucien Nunn's Gold King mine in southwestern Colorado's San Juan Mountains was nearly three miles from the San Miguel River - out of reach of any DC power of the day.

Nunn was a Harvard-educated lawyer from Ohio who came west to seek his fortune. Starting the restaurant business in Colorado's rough-and-tumble gold rush towns, he grew his legal trade and eventually became manager of the Gold King Mine.

Nunn consulted George Westinghouse on the design of a hydroelectric generator to supply electricity to his mine. Despite having to adapt, improvise and invent nearly everything they used, engineers built a new AC hydroelectric generator that ran steadily for 30 days once it was started.

Later, Nunn's Telluride Power Company expanded in the Intermountain West and became home, at the mouth of Provo Canyon, just south of Salt Lake City, to a unique training school for electrical engineers and line workers.

Practical education in electricity was not available anywhere else.

While the mining industry drove the development of the electric utilities, the use of electricity for other businesses and homes grew steadily.

Dozens of small, less-efficient electric companies were consolidated into Utah Power & Light Company in 1912.

Still, only 30 percent of American industry was run by electricity.

By 1929, that figure had increased to 70 percent. Residential electric service took hold more slowly, with many rural areas still without electric utility service well into the 1930s.

Today, however, it's hard to imagine modern life without the convenience and efficiency of electricity.

"Rocky Mountain Power will still be the company you've known as Utah Power and Pacific Power," said Walje. "The only changes we plan to make are those that make us more responsive to our customers, more focused on how our electricity drives the economies of the communities we serve and more committed than ever to the safety of our employees and the integrity of the essential service we provide."

Beginning July 17, customer bills will carry the new company brand name and logo. However, it will take several weeks for all customer bills to cycle through with the new name.

For example, bills delivered to customers in the Castle Valley region on July 17 and July 18 will have the previous names, having been printed and mailed July 14.

The new name also will be reflected in customer service operations and the company's Internet Web site information.

An advertising campaign to ensure customers understand the change also will begin and continue for several months.

Walje said the object of the campaign is to inform customers and make the transition as smooth as possible.

Part of the campaign includes a presenting sponsorship of Utah's Days of '47 parade in Salt Lake City on July 24. The statewide celebration marks the day in 1847 that Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley.

"It's fitting that we begin to publicize the change to the Rocky Mountain Power name during a celebration of this region's pioneer roots," Walje said. "Electric service in the West was very much a frontier enterprise. This company has quite literally grown up with our communities during the past 90-plus years.

"Because of this, we recognize the true strength of the company is our connection to the people we serve. Our new name is a symbol that we are committed to carry forward the frontier ethics of hard work and belief in a bright future. We're committed to offer that hard work and hopeful that our best years lie ahead in the 21st century."

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