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Large western utility seeks 4.3 GW in clean power and energy storage by 2023

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In early July, Oregon-headquartered PacifiCorp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, issued a request for proposal (RFP) for up to 4.3 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity contracts by 2023.  The plan calls for 1.9 GW of wind, 1.8 GW of solar, and 595 MW of battery storage. This RFP is the largest in history by PacifiCorp, and it marks the interim goal to meet the full objective of their most recent 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).  The 2019 IRP calls for 11 GW of wind and solar capacity and 2.8 GW of battery storage by 2038.

PacifiCorp, as a company, will not be submitting bids on these projects.  The company expects to entertain different bid structures including power purchase agreements (PPAs) and build-transfer agreements with various independent developers that can achieve commercial operation by the end of 2024.  Projects that take more time to develop, like hydro pumped storage, can offer proposals with operational dates beyond 2024.  Project proposals need to be capable of interconnecting with, or delivering to, PacifiCorp’s transmission system at either its eastern or western balancing authority regions.  Leading up to, and contributing to, the 2019 IRP, the company held 18 public meetings across their service territory over the past two years. 

Planned milestones, subject to change, include:

  • Notice of intent to bid (7/20/2020)
  • RFP bids due (8/3/2020)
  • Bid eligibility screening completed (8/17/2020)
  • Initial Short List (ISL) completed (9/4/2020)
  • Notification to bidders selected to ISL (10/14/2020)
  • Final Short List (FSL) selected (5/25/2021)
  • Review of FSL completed (6/1/2021)
  • Execute agreements (11/8/2021)

PacifiCorp on fast, green track

PacifiCorp is one of the largest electric utilities in the western United States, with infrastructure and service territories covering more than 141,000 square miles.  The company’s two divisions, Pacific Power (Oregon, Washington, and California) and Rocky Mountain Power (Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho) serve roughly 1.9 million customers. The company operates more than 70 generating facilities (roughly 10.9 GW) and maintains more than 16,500 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, about 64,000 miles of distribution power lines, and more than 900 substations across ten western states – by far the largest grid footprint in the west. 

The company’s power generation, including coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and geothermal resources, combined to generate roughly 50 million MWh in 2019.  PacifiCorp is the largest utility owner of wind power in the western U.S.  Currently the company has nearly 2.0 GW of renewable projects under construction.

PacifiCorp electricity production by fuel, MWh

 

PacifiCorp is one of the founding partners of the highly successful Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM), which has resulted in significantly reduced carbon emissions and economic benefits across the west since being established in November of 2014.

Big changes ahead

According to the PacifiCorp’s 2019 IRP, the company’s preferred portfolio of resources as a percentage of energy and capacity include: 

In terms of energy . . .

  • 2020 – coal (40%), natural gas (32%) renewables (24%), and other (4%*)
  • 2024 – coal (40%), natural gas (9%) renewables (45%), and other (6%*)
  • 2038 – coal (6%), natural gas (20%) renewables (55%), and other (19%*)’

In terms of capacity . . .

  • 2020 – coal (37%), natural gas (20%), renewables (29%), and other (14%*)
  • 2024 – coal (24%), natural gas (15%), renewables (49%), energy storage (3%), and other (9%*)  
  • 2038 – coal (5%), natural gas (16%), renewables (49%), energy storage (11%), and other (19%*)

* Other resources include demand response, interruptible resources, energy efficiency, power purchases, and other transactions.  

The company has an ambitious plan to grow energy storage from virtually zero percent of portfolio capacity today, to 3% by 2024, and 11% by 2038. Additionally, PacifiCorp expects to grow demand-side management (DSM) resources to 860 MW by 2025 and reach 1,890 MW by 2038.  The primary DSM efforts involve adding energy efficiency and direct load control projects.

Augmenting PacifiCorp’s commitment to carbon-free energy, in August of 2019, the company announced they had acquired all interest in the Foote Creek I wind farm in Carbon County, Wyoming.  The company plans to repower the 41.1 MW facility to increase energy output by roughly 60%.  The Foote Creek I wind farm was the first utility-scale wind farm in Wyoming – commissioned in 1999 by co-owners PacifiCorp and the Eugene Water & Electric Board (Oregon), with a power purchase contract to supply Bonneville Power Administration with the output.  The repower project involves the replacement of 68 operating 600-kW turbines with 13 new large turbines.

Transmission a big part of the plan  

Along with the new renewable energy projects included in the company’s preferred portfolio is a substantial buildout of new transmission projects and upgrades.  First announced in 2007, the Energy Gateway transmission expansion project continues to evolve today.  The projects consist of single and double-circuit 230-kV, 345-kV, and 500-kV lines with the primary goal to interconnect and move power from wind and solar projects spread across the company’s western footprint.  The plan calls for the construction of the 400-mile Energy Gateway South project expected online by the end of 2023.  When complete, the new transmission lines will connect southeast Wyoming with northcentral Utah.  Currently, the 140-mile Energy Gateway West segment is under construction and expected to be energized this year.

Investment in green power

The 2019 IRP preferred plan targets capital investment to the magnitude of $17.3 billion through 2038.  The energy resource component of the plan includes approximately $14.5 billion, while the transmission component, including new high-voltage power lines and system upgrades, is estimated at roughly $2.8 billion.  Most of this investment targets the states of Wyoming ($6.1 bn) and Utah ($4.5 bn), with most of the remaining investment spread across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.      

In 2019, based on data compiled by Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ Velocity Suite, most of the power generated at PacifiCorp’s owned power plants was from coal (65.4%) and natural gas (24.1%) facilities, while renewables (10.5%) made up the rest.  The numbers do not reflect supply from power purchase agreements (PPAs), other wholesale power contracts, and supply components like DSM programs.  By implementing the 2019 IRP preferred plan, including the substantial capital investment in transmission, new renewable resources, and energy storage, PacifiCorp’s clean power portfolio looks to continue to increase well into the future.

Kent Knutson's picture

Thank Kent for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 27, 2020 1:48 pm GMT

Transmission a big part of the plan  

There it is-- so happy to see this focus! From what you write, it seems that the goal is for them to transfer clean generation within different areas of its coverage, but do you think there will be any efforts to likewise build out capacity to export or import generation to/from neighboring areas?

Kent Knutson's picture
Kent Knutson on Jul 28, 2020 4:00 pm GMT

Matt, thanks for your comment.  PacifiCorp was a founding member of the very successful Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) . . . so to answer your question -- the company is already heavily interconnected with balancing authorities through-out the west and is particpating in a beneficial way to optimise renewables across wide areas of the west.  Additionally, CAISO and the EIM are studying the feasibility of introducing a large western footprint 'day-ahead-market' which will lead to even more optimization of renewables when complete.  The company is also heavily investing in long-haul transmission through their Gateway West transmission projects . . . all of this strategy to better position PacifiCorp for a clean-power future. 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jul 28, 2020 4:50 pm GMT

In terms of energy . . .

2020 – coal (40%), natural gas (32%) renewables (24%), and other (4%*)

2024 – coal (40%), natural gas (9%) renewables (45%), and other (6%*)

2038 – coal (6%), natural gas (20%) renewables (55%), and other (19%*)

I like the 2020 and 2024 numbers... good short-term planning and realistic ranges.

However, weird that they lower NG between 2020 and 2024 vs lowering coal.

 

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Jul 29, 2020 1:22 pm GMT

This will contribute well to the NWPP Resource Adequacy efforts.

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