U.S. Utility Aims to Save $600 Million Over 20 Years by Replacing Coal with Cheaper Renewables
Big U.S. utility PacifiCorp is laying out a strategy that relies heavily on solar, energy storage, and wind and speeds up the phaseout of its economically fragile coal plants in a new integrated resource plan (IRP) covering investments through 2038.
The company expects to save US$600 million over 20 years by replacing coal with less expensive renewables, Greentech Media reports.
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The plan released by the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain power company “calls for nearly 3,000 megawatts of new solar by 2025 and more than 6,300 megawatts by 2038, along with nearly 600 megawatts of battery storage by 2025 and more than 2,800 megawatts by 2038,” with all the storage paired with new solar, Greentech states. It also envisions more than 3,500 MW of new wind by 2025 and more than 4,600 MW by 2038, almost all of it built in Wyoming.
As well, “the draft IRP would close five coal plants in Wyoming by 2028, instead of keeping most of them open through 2037 or later. This move is likely to face opposition from the coal-friendly state’s political leadership,” the industry publication adds. But “PacifiCorp’s nearly year-long analysis has shown that keeping these coal plants open doesn’t align with its imperative of delivering reliable 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,” said Rick Link, the company’s vice president of resource planning and acquisitions.
Greentech says the IRP had “become a major focus of clean energy advocates and climate change activists, given its potential to accelerate the Berkshire Hathaway-owned utility’s move away from fossil fuels and toward carbon-free alternatives.”
Link said this was the first time PacifiCorp had included battery storage in a least-cost power portfolio, largely due to tax benefits available through the federal Investment Tax Credit for solar. “But it’s also a testament to the value that batteries can provide solar PV in terms of firming its capacity factor, enhancing its flexibility, and otherwise making it a more reliable resource for PacifiCorp,” Greentech notes.