A Northwest Utility Considers Early Retirement For Some Coal Operations
An energy company with hundreds of thousands of Oregon and Washington customers is considering the early retirement of some of its coal-burning operations.
PacifiCorp released a new economic analysis Thursday that says its customers could save about $248 million over 20 years if the company decides to retire four of its Wyoming coal units by 2022. That would mean closing one coal-fired plant and reducing another plant’s capacity by half.
PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said any electricity production lost from the retirement of coal operations would be replaced by energy from wind, solar and natural gas.
Burning coal is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Coal currently accounts for 60 percent of the electricity that PacifiCorp provides to its customers. The company already is moving away from coal, Gravely says. But the new study suggests this move could happen faster than previously planned.
“There is interest in seeing that happen,” he said.
Retiring two of the four coal units at PacifiCorp’s Jim Bridger Power Plant and both of the units that are part of the Naughton Power Plant would have a big impact on jobs and the demand for coal in Wyoming, where the plants operate and where their coal is mined. Gravely said it would also mean a less carbon-intensive mix of electricity for PacifiCorp’s Oregon customers.
“Even though the plants are located in Wyoming, it’s an interconnected system so it is part of the power mix that serves customers in Oregon,” he said.
In 2016, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill that requires PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric to phase out the supply of coal-fired power to the state by 2030 and double their renewable energy use by 2040. The new policy will eventually strip the utilities of their Oregon customers for coal-fired power.
The company serves 587,365 customers in Oregon and 131,453 customers in Washington through its Pacific Power business unit.
Gravely emphasized that the study is preliminary and any decision remains several months away. PacifiCorp plans to work with regulators and stakeholders before submitting its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, which is expected in August, to state utility regulators. The company has customers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and northern California.
Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting
A coal company has been dealt another legal blow in its attempt to build an export terminal on the lower Columbia River. The Washington Court of Appeals
upheld a lower court ruling Tuesday that was being challenged by Millennium Bulk Terminals and Northwest Alloys Inc. Continue Reading Proposed Southwestern Washington Coal Export Terminal Dealt A Blow By Appeals Court
Coal-fired power plants keep closing, and communities around the country must decide what to do with those sites. Pennsylvania has a plan, aiming to create new jobs where old ones have been lost. It’s a trend seen in other states, including Washington. Continue Reading Finding New Opportunity For Old Coal-Fired Power Plant Sites
Cryptocurrency companies in Central Washington were left to wait in suspense on Tuesday after they asked a federal judge in Spokane to block an imminent, targeted electric rate increase. The energy-intensive data center operators claim they would be crippled by the Grant County Public Utility District rate hike. The utility says the case is without merit. Continue Reading Cryptocurrency Miners Ask Federal Judge To Stop ‘Crippling’ Rate Hike Of Central Washington Utility