GILLETTE, Wyo. — Electric utility company PacifiCorp announced today it seeks to quadruple its wind and solar resources by 2032.
The company said in a news release that it filed its 2023 biennial integrated resource plan March 31 with the six state utility commissions in the company’s service area.
PacifiCorp said that in addition to raising its wind and solar resources to 20,000 megawatts in the next decade, it wants to have 7,400 megawatts of energy storage by 2029 to advance on its trajectory toward decarbonization and meet state and federal regulations and requirements.
The plan leverages resources throughout its transmission network and continues investments in emissions-free technologies, like advanced nuclear and non-emitting peaking resources that meet high-demand energy needs, the release said.
“The advanced nuclear resources that appear in the plan represent a promising future for our employees and communities in rural Utah and Wyoming,” PacifiCorp Senior Vice President of resource planning, procurement and optimization Rick Link said. “As we transition to a net-zero energy future, it is important to leverage the experience, skills and dedication of the communities that have supplied our energy needs for the past century.”
PacifiCorp said it didn’t select carbon capture utilization and storage as a resource type for its current preferred portfolio, but it will explore the technology where it makes sense for customers.
The company wants to continue progressing on demand response and energy efficiency programs, the release said. Expanding and modernizing the transmission network enables the company to deliver the most cost-effective, reliable energy portfolio to serve customers.
“We are engaged in a fundamental remaking of our regional generation and transmission network, which has served our customers so well for decades,” Link said. “As new sustainable generating resources come online, we will expand our transmission network to ensure the reliability and reasonable costs our customers expect and deserve. This plan includes short-term actions and a 20-year vision designed to meet the needs of customers tomorrow and for the next generation.”
Stakeholder input and data analysis have supported the company’s decision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions system-wide to 70% of 2005 levels by 2030, the release said. The company seeks an 87% reduction by 2035 and a 100% reduction by 2050.
“PacifiCorp’s western states’ emissions reductions will be even more accelerated, in compliance with individual state emissions targets and clean energy requirements,” the release said.
The company’s focused on delivering safe, affordable and reliable power to its customers and communities. The company plans to join the Extended Day Ahead Market with the California Independent System Operator in 2025, which will allow participants to trade the lowest-cost available energy a day in advance. The market supports and expands the success of the Western Energy Imbalance Market, which has saved PacifiCorp customers over $591 million since 2014.
“Our Integrated Resource Plan is designed to determine the lowest-cost options for customers, adjusting for risks, future customer needs, system reliability, market projections and changing technology,” Link said. “We depended a great deal on public involvement by utility regulators, customers and other stakeholder groups to develop this plan. We are grateful for their involvement.”
The company’s accelerating investments in Wyoming and Utah with new transmission, advanced nuclear, renewable energy and storage resources.
“In addition to the advanced nuclear reactor project selected by the 2021 IRP for the Kemmerer, Wyoming, area by 2030, the 2023 plan selected two more advanced nuclear projects, which could be located in Utah near currently operating thermal coal plants,” the release said.
The company’s expanding transmission in Oregon and Idaho to increase access to renewable resources, serve growing customer demand and substantially expand its transfer capability, resource diversity and resilience benefits between the West and the Rockies, the release said.
Data analysis, modeling of future needs of customers and an assessment of resource types prompted the plan to select a preferred portfolio of resources for the next 20 years that it says will be the least expensive and least risky resource types and the basis for competitive bidding for construction projects.
The company said it’s investing in wind and solar generation and battery storage near the solar projects and expanding energy efficiency and customer demand-management programs. Connecting the resources across the West with a strengthened, modernized transmission network will require more transmission projects to ensure reliability for customers and opportunities for communities in the company’s service area to thrive.
Black Hills Energy spokesperson Laurie Farkas said the company doesn’t comment on other utilities’ initiatives.
Campbell County’s Office of Economic Transformation Director of Diversification Rusty Bell said while he hasn’t yet reviewed the details of the year for decommissioning PacifiCorp’s oldest plant in Gillette, which is the oldest of the six in Campbell County, power-generating companies don’t just take power infrastructure out without replacing it with something else.
“The large electrical infrastructure is in place, so whether it’s nuclear, solar or gas, the jobs for power generation will still be there,” he said.
Powder River Basin Resource Council Chair David Romtvedt said in a news release that the organization supports the company’s commitment to the transition to renewable energy and hopes the addition of renewable energy will be given highest priority in the company’s resource mix.
“Greater use of renewable energy will help us to ease the dislocation caused by the transition away from extractive resources while developing a more sustainable energy future that can support stable economies in our communities,” Romtvedt said.
He said the organization believes the company shouldn’t invest in carbon capture technology or nuclear projects. They said carbon capture technology’s not feasible, and nuclear is economically and environmentally risky.
“Ratepayers should not be asked to cover the costs of uneconomical energy projects,” he said. “Instead, we support the addition of cost effective and environmentally responsible renewable energy sources to the company’s overall energy profile.”
Campbell County Commissioner and Fort Union Industrial Park General Manager Jim Ford said he hasn’t yet reviewed the report but was anticipating the news.
“Our nation is no longer energy independent, largely due to the current administrations negative and punitive policy regarding fossil fuels,” Campbell County Board of Commissioners Chair Colleen Faber said at 6:20 p.m. March 31. “I support looking at the big picture for energy, however policy and energy sources that are driven by ideology instead of standards based on science is only hurting the energy industry and consumers who are paying higher prices for energy.”
To learn more about the 2023 Integrated Resource Plan, visit PacifiCorp.com/IRP.