- PacifiCorp yesterday released an expansive, long-term energy plan that contemplates $3.5 billion in investment, construction of a portion of the Gateway West transmission project, and thousands of megawatts in renewable energy.
- The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which was filed with utility regulators across the utility's six-state service territory, includes the investments set to happen by the end of 2020 but also sets a path for the next two decades.
- By the end of 2020, the utility plans to construct 1,100 MW of new wind projects, primarily in Wyoming. Out to 2036, however, almost 2 GW of solar and wind capacity is also on the drawing board.
PacifiCorp's IRP tackles clean energy in three distinct tranches: transmission access for wind energy, near-term wind capacity construction, and longer-term solar and wind plans. The expansive proposal looks to take advantage of near-term federal tax credits, and includes tighter environmental restrictions on its coal facilities.
“These investments will significantly increase the amount of clean renewable energy serving customers and reduce costs at the same time,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power, a unit of PacifiCorp serving customers in Oregon, Washington and California.
The utility is proposing to upgrade more than 900 MW of its existing wind capacity with larger blades and newer technology. These changes will allow the facility to generate more energy "in a wider range of wind conditions by 2020," the utility said. And it will bring 1,100 MW of new wind online by the end of 2020, with most of it located in Wyoming.
Completing the wind upgrades and new wind developments by 2020 will all PacificCorp to use federal production tax credits "and provide a net savings for customers over the life of the projects," the utility said.
Plans also call for beginning construction on a segment of the Gateway West 500-kV transmission line between Medicine Bow, Wyo., and the Jim Bridger power plant in the southwestern part of the state. Planned to be in service by 2020 as well, the 140-mile line would relieve congestion and access additional wind generation.
Between 2028 and 2036, PacifiCorp plans to add another 859 MW of new wind capacity, with 85 MW in Wyoming and 774 MW in Idaho. Also in that time frame, the company will propose more than 1,000 MW of new solar capacity.
The plan includes something for everyone: PacifiCorp said it is "continuing a cost-conscious transition that adds more energy diversity," by incorporating the company’s environmental compliance obligations for its coal-fired plants into the IRP. And energy efficiency is also included: the plan predicts efficiency will offset 88% of forecasted demand growth over the next decade.