PacifiCorp, Replacing Coal with Renewables
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- Oct 7, 2019 6:15 pm GMTOct 7, 2019 6:01 pm GMT
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In recent years, mandates requiring utility companies to keep emissions and electricity prices low have made wind and solar more and more appealing. PacifiCorp, one of the west's largest utilities, will retire 16 of its 24 coal units earlier than originally planned. According to an E&E News review of EPA emissions data, the units scheduled for retirement accounted for almost half of the utilities’ carbon dioxide emissions between 2008 and 2018. The Portland-based power company plans to replace the majority of that coal-generated power with 3,000 megawatts of solar, 3,500 MW of wind and 600 MW of battery storage. The plan emphasizes the need to transition away from coal-fired power plants for the interest of saving ratepayers substantial costs down the road. "The primary drivers behind this transition really stem from opportunities to explore new resource technologies that frankly are simply more cost effective and being able to meet our customers' needs with a reasonable cost and reliably," Rick Link, a PacifiCorp executive commented. Not everyone is pleased with these proposed changes. While Oregon and Washington have passed legislation aimed at ending coal use, Wyoming is attempting to keep its coal industry standing. The plan would close two units at the Jim Bridger plant in western Wyoming, the largest coal facility in PacifiCorp's fleet and among the biggest in the nation. If approved, PacifiCorp’s Integrated Resource Plan through 2038 would create a ripple affect likely to impact the entire state. "What we are basically seeing is the beginning of the end of coal mining in southwestern Wyoming, which has gone on since before statehood." said Rob Godby, an economist at the University of Wyoming. How well are other states taking the news? How will the power company meet the challenges of a transition this size?