Building and Construction

Wind, Solar, Transmission Top PacifiCorp Plan

11 April 2017

PacifiCorp released a long-term energy plan that looks to new investments in renewable energy resources, upgrades to the company’s existing wind fleet, and energy efficiency measures to meet future customer energy needs.

The $3.5 billion expansion plan, set to be in place by 2020, also incorporates building a segment of the Gateway West transmission line to facilitate the wind expansion.

(Read the PacifiCorp plan.)

The first new natural gas resource is expected to added in 2029, one year later when compared to PacifiCorp’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan. The projected plant would be a frame simple cycle combustion turbine. The first combined combustion turbine, a 436 MW G-class 1x1, could be added in 2030.

(See a map of PacifiCorp assets.)

The Integrated Resource Plan, which was filed in early April with utility regulators across PacifiCorp’s six-state service territory, helps the company provide reliable electric service to customers at the lowest cost. The 2017 IRP includes:

  • Upgrading more than 900 megawatts (MW) of existing wind plants with larger blades and newer technology to generate more energy in a wider range of wind conditions by 2020.
  • Beginning construction on a segment of the Gateway West 500-kilovolt transmission line between Medicine Bow, Wyoming, and the Jim Bridger power plant in the southwestern part of the state. The 140-mile line, set to be in service by the end of 2020, would enable additional wind generation and improve the operational efficiency of the broader system by relieving transmission congestion in Wyoming.
  • Building 1,100 MW of new wind projects, primarily in Wyoming, by the end of 2020.
  • Adding another 859 MW of new wind capacity – 85 megawatts in Wyoming and 774 megawatts in Idaho – between 2028 and 2036.
  • Building 1,040 MW of new solar capacity between 2028 and 2036.
  • Continuing a cost-conscious transition that adds more energy diversity, the plan incorporates the company’s environmental compliance obligations for its coal-fired plants.

By moving to complete the wind upgrades and new wind developments by 2020, the company will be able to use federal production tax credits.

Work could start on a 500-kilovolt transmission line between Medicine Bow, Wyoming, and the Jim Bridger power plant, pictured. Work could start on a 500-kilovolt transmission line between Medicine Bow, Wyoming, and the Jim Bridger power plant, pictured. Energy efficiency continues to play a key role in the company’s long-term resource plans. The 2017 IRP anticipates energy efficiency will offset 88% of forecast growth in energy usage over the next 10 years and limit the need for new power plants.

Over the 20-year planning horizon, the company's "preferred portfolio" includes 1,959 MW of new wind resources, 905 MW of upgraded (“repowered”) wind resources, 1,040 MW of new solar resources, 2,077 MW of incremental energy efficiency resources, and 365 MW of new direct load control capacity.

PacifiCorp’s analysis shows that by 2020 and with all-in economic savings for customers, the company can add 905 MW of repowered wind resources, 1,100 MW of new wind resources, and a new 140-mile 500 kV transmission line in Wyoming to access the new wind resources and relieve congestion for existing capacity. The plan also assumes reducing existing coal capacity by 3,650 MW through the end of 2036.

PacifiCorp serves approximately 1.8 million customers in six western states. The company was formed in 1984 and in 1989 merged with Utah Power & Light. PacifiCorp is a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

PacifiCorp consists of two business units: Pacific Power, which delivers electricity to customers in Oregon, Washington and California, and is based in Portland, Oregon; and Rocky Mountain Power, which delivers electricity to customers in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho, and is based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

To contact the author of this article, email david.wagman@ieeeglobalspec.com


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