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Wyoming coal units may close early as PacifiCorp looks to solar and wind

CASPER, Wyo. — PacifiCorp is considering closing multiple coal power units earlier than they’d previously planned.

In a statement released on Thursday, Oct. 3, the company says a new draft for their long term plans would put greater emphasis on wind and solar as the coal units are phased out ahead of schedule.

That would include at least four coal units in Wyoming:

  • Jim Bridger 1 in 2023 instead of 2037
  • Naughton 1 and 2 in 2025 instead of 2029
  • Jim Bridger 2 in 2028 instead of 2037

“Of the 24 coal units currently serving PacifiCorp customers, the draft plan envisions retirement of 16 of the units by 2030 and 20 of the units by the end of the planning period in 2038,” PacifiCorp statement reads. “The unit retirements will reduce coal-fueled generation capacity by nearly 2,800 MW by 2030 and by nearly 4,500 MW by 2038.”

Naughton 3 was shut down in February. The company’s plan is to convert this unit to natural gas in 2020.

The retirement dates for some other Wyoming units wouldn’t see changes should the draft plan be implemented:

  • Dave Johnston 1-4 (2027)
  • Jim Bridger 3-4 (2037)

PacifiCorp may look to add 3,500 MW of new wind generation and 3,000 MW of solar by 2025. They would look to add 4,600 MW of wind and 6,300 MW of new solar by 2038.

Wind expansion would include the following:

-More than 1,500 MW of new wind generation that is currently under construction, including new wind projects in Wyoming as part of the company’s Energy Vision 2020 initiative

-1,920 MW of additional new wind generation in Wyoming by 2024

-1,100 MW of new wind generation in Idaho in the 2030 to 2032 timeframe


New renewable energy battery storage capacity also appears to be a focus. PacifiCorp may look to add:

  • Nearly 600 MW of battery storage by 2025 and more than 2,800 MW of battery storage by 2038
  • 3,000 MW of new solar in Utah paired with 635 MW of battery storage, phased in between 2020 and 2037
  • 1,415 MW of new solar in Wyoming paired with 354 MW of battery storage, phased in between 2024 and 2038
  • 1,075 MW of new solar in Oregon paired with 244 MW of battery storage, phased in between 2020 and 2033
  • 814 MW of new solar in Washington paired with 204 MW of battery storage, phased in between 2024 and 2036

“’The transition in how we meet our customers’ energy needs is under way,’ said Rick Link, PacifiCorp’s vice president of resource planning and acquisitions. ‘With a focus on lower-cost renewable resources and strategic transmission investments, 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 that minimizes impacts to our thermal operations workforce and communities.’”

The company is preparing this draft as they look to finalize a 2019 Integrated Resource Plan. They’ll file their final proposal with state regulatory commissions by Oct. 18.