For the primary time, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain utility PacifiCorp is planning to depend on large quantities of solar PV and batteries, in addition to wind power, for a big share of its long-term energy wants. The firm additionally desires to close down economically struggling coal vegetation years sooner than scheduled. 

These are the highlights of PacifiCorp’s draft built-in useful resource plan filed on Thursday, laying out its funding targets by 2038. As we’ve been protecting for months now, PacifiCorp’s IRP has grow to be a significant focus of fresh energy advocates and climate change activists, given its potential to speed up the Berkshire Hathaway-owned utility’s transfer away from fossil fuels and towards carbon-free options. 

The draft IRP would shut 5 coal vegetation in Wyoming by 2028, as an alternative of maintaining most of them open by 2037 or later. This transfer is prone to face opposition from the coal-friendly state’s political management, together with a newly handed regulation that might power PacifiCorp to discover a purchaser for its money-losing vegetation earlier than shutting them down. 

Still, PacifiCorp’s practically year-long evaluation has proven that maintaining these coal vegetation open doesn’t align with its crucial of delivering dependable and low-cost energy to its six-state, 1.9-million-customer territory.

“This plan allows us to continue to deliver the reliable and low-cost energy our customers need as we embark on a phased and well-managed coal transition,” Rick Link, PacifiCorp’s vice chairman of useful resource planning and acquisitions, mentioned in a Thursday convention name. 

PacifiCorp’s draft IRP, which is able to now undergo a stakeholder remark interval upfront of its Oct. 18 submitting deadline, calls for greater than 3,500 megawatts of recent wind technology by 2025, and greater than 4,600 megawatts of recent wind technology by 2038. Almost all of that’s to be in-built Wyoming. To carry it to market, PacifiCorp’s IRP depends on the deliberate 400-mile Gateway South transmission line to attach southeastern Wyoming and northern Utah, augmenting the 140-mile Gateway West line now being in-built Wyoming.

But the IRP additionally calls for practically 3,000 megawatts of recent solar by 2025 and greater than 6,300 megawatts by 2038, together with practically 600 megawatts of battery storage by 2025 and greater than 2,800 megawatts by 2038. In reality, the entire storage deliberate by 2025 is to be paired with new solar, marking the primary time that PacifiCorp has identified battery storage as a part of a least-cost portfolio, Link famous.

That’s largely because of the tax advantages nonetheless out there to storage added to solar programs incomes the federal Investment Tax Credit, he mentioned. But it’s additionally a testomony to the worth that batteries can present solar PV farms when it comes to firming its capability issue, enhancing its flexibility and in any other case making it a extra dependable useful resource for PacifiCorp, as we famous in a column in final month’s GTM Squared

Here’s PacifiCorp’s solar-storage breakdown by state: 

  • 3,000 megawatts of recent solar in Utah paired with 635 megawatts of battery storage, phased in between 2020 and 2037
  • 1,415 megawatts of recent solar in Wyoming paired with 354 megawatts of battery storage, phased in between 2024 and 2038
  • 1,075 megawatts of recent solar in Oregon paired with 244 megawatts of battery storage, phased in between 2020 and 2033
  • 814 megawatts of recent solar in Washington paired with 204 megawatts of battery storage, phased in between 2024 and 2036. 

PacifiCorp can even depend on a big quantity of recent natural-gas technology assets to satisfy its future objectives. It anticipates launching all-source bids to acquire the earliest rounds of assets it’s in search of, probably within the 2021 timeframe, Link mentioned. 

The utility expects to see important financial savings over the 20 years coated by its IRP, in comparison with varied business-as-usual benchmarks utilized in its earlier analyses. Its most up-to-date evaluation indicated that it might save practically $600 million over 20 years, largely by changing coal-fired power with low-cost renewables. But Link mentioned it could be untimely to assign a price to the present draft IRP’s plan, for the reason that correct benchmark for calculating will probably be totally different from earlier ones.

As for PacifiCorp’s present fleet of 24 coal items, the draft IRP calls for retiring 16 of them by 2030 and 20 of them by 2038. These embody a number of accelerated retirements:  

  • Jim Bridger 1 in 2023 as an alternative of 2037
  • Naughton 1 and 2 in 2025 as an alternative of 2029
  • Craig 2 in 2026 as an alternative of 2034
  • Colstrip 3 and 4 in 2027 as an alternative of 2046
  • Jim Bridger 2 in 2028 as an alternative of 2037

But Senate File 159, handed with overwhelming help from Wyoming’s Republican-controlled state legislature in March, will put boundaries in entrance of those retirements. The regulation prohibits utilities from closing coal-fired power vegetation with out first making a “good-faith effort” to search out patrons that may proceed operations — a difficult proposition, provided that these are the worst-performing power vegetation in PacifiCorp’s portfolio. 

Chad Teply, senior vice chairman for coverage and enterprise growth, mentioned that PacifiCorp is getting ready to adjust to the regulation in executing its first scheduled retirement of the Bridger 1 unit in 2023. The Wyoming Public Service Commission is within the midst of creating guidelines to implement the regulation. Teply added, “We would foresee that Bridger Unit 1 retirement as the first opportunity to deploy and comply with Wyoming’s law to make that available to the market for sale, effectively.” 

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