During the Carbon and Emery Minerals and Energy Collaborative meeting that was hosted at the Southeastern Regional Development Agency (SERDA) offices on Wednesday, the Ridge Road Industry Project was highlighted.
The presentation was led by Carbon County Economic Development and Tourism Director Shanny Wilson, who was assisted by Carbon County Commissioner Tony Martines. Beginning the presentation, it was stated that energy production throughout Carbon County has been a primary focus and economic driver for the area for many years. In recent years, however, energy depletion trends and government policies have resulted in jobs being lost with coal mine and power plant closures.
A large challenge being faced is that there is no coal being produced in the county. In 2012, centrally assessed properties paid 63% of the county tax and now homeowners pay the 63%. Mineral lease monies have dropped significantly, though Wilson stated that she believes there has been more movement in the last couple of years than in a long time.
There are several companies interested in locating to Ridge Road at this time and a lot of research has been conducted. Wilson said that the county is excited about the things that are happening and the conservations that are being had.
Commissioner Martines said that August of 2019 was the last time that coal was mined in Carbon County and due to that, the county has had to work on some reinvention. It was then identified that Ridge Road could be the place for the upcoming growth or transition.
Ridge Road is a prime location due to the ease of access to US Highway 6 and State Highway 10, as well as access to the national Class 1 freight rail system. The three interested companies and their monetary value at this time are SCS Utah Hydrogen with $2,500,000,000, Clean Development International with $1,200,000,000 and Wellington Microtech with $250,000,000. There is another company also interested, but it is confidential at this time.
These businesses and proposals are all in the development stages, but need infrastructure assistance. Wilson also shared that the Inland Port Authority is looking at bringing industry to the area. Martines said that while the mining and railroad infrastructure is what attracted the companies, utilities are the shortfall.
One thing that was fortunate with the pandemic was that the county was able to secure American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and utilize them for the sewer line project that spanned from Highway 10 over to the Savage loadout and beyond for these areas to use and develop. It was viewed as a long-term benefit for the community.
“The word is getting out, people believe in this, in what we’re doing,” Wilson stated.
There is approximately 330 acres and about 550 water shares that are part of the development area. Governor Spencer Cox, Senator David Hinkins and other officials were shown the plan and what is desired to be done. This will potentially be a great thing for the county, though it is not happening as quickly as they would like.