- Idaho's largest utility filed a settlement stipulation with state regulators last week to shut down the 522 MW North Valmy coal power plant a decade sooner than originally planned, saying it would not benefit consumers past 2025.
- Idaho Power's settlement with state and federal stakeholders outlines how the utility plans to allocate costs and revenues associated with closing the Nevada power plant. The utility filed an application last year to raise rates by as much as $28 million to allow for the accelerated depreciation of the coal generator
- Idaho Power plans to work with plant co-owner NV Energy to reach a deal to shut down plant on the new accelerated timeline. The utilities' original plan would have seen the plant's two generating units close in 2031 and 2035, respectively.
Western states are slowly weaning off their reliance on coal-fired generation as economic and political pressure to shut down the carbon-intensive plants builds.
Nevada utility NV Energy closed its final unit at the Reid-Gardner plant coal plant in March of this year, and plans to eliminate its generation from the embattled coal-fired Navajo Generating Station by the end of 2019.
Now NV Energy is also facing pressure from Idaho Power to speed up the retirement of the North Valmy plant. Idaho Power said an October press release that the North Valmy plant "may not benefit customers from an economic and electric reliability perspective to operate the facility beyond 2025."
"This accelerated depreciation schedule is part of Idaho Power's commitment to a glide-path away from coal, and ensures that the remaining costs of Valmy will be allocated to those customers who will benefit from this resource."
In its IRP, Idaho Power outlined a series of coal plant retirements, including the North Valmy coal plant, as part of its plan to boost a cleaner power mix to meet environmental regulations.
Since the IRP's approval in late 2015, Idaho Power filed a series of applications and settlements pushing for the accelerated retirement of the coal-fired plant.
Nevada regulators also ordered NV Energy to conduct an economic analysis of the Valmy coal plant earlier this year, following Sierra Club testimony the plant would cost state ratepayers more than $30 million. That report, the AP notes, is due early next year.
The retirement of Western coal plants comes as President Donald Trump and chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt pledge support for the beleaguered resource. In part because of these issues, Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered a review of baseload resources to ascertain whether renewable energy-friendly policies contributing to their early retirement.
EPA Administrator Pruitt last week said coal is essential to preserving electric reliability during an appearance on the Fox Business network. A disruption in gas pipeline pipelines, he said, could hurt utilities if they become over-reliant on natural gas generation.