PacifiCorp Plans to Accelerate Shift from Coal to Renewable Energy

PacifiCorp, an electric power company serving six states, has announced plans to significantly reduce its reliance on coal-fired power plants and shift towards renewable energy sources. The company plans to retire most of its Wyoming coal plants by 2032 and replace them with wind and solar energy, nuclear power, battery storage, energy efficiencies, and wholesale power purchases.

By 2032, PacifiCorp plans to cut 3,000 megawatts of coal-fired power generation capacity across its operating region. The company intends to replace the coal-fired capacity with renewable energy sources, including quadrupling its wind and solar resources to 20,000 megawatts by 2032. The shift is expected to be accompanied by approximately 2,500 miles of new transmission lines, many of which will connect Wyoming renewable sources to PacifiCorp service territories in the West.

The updated Integrated Resource Plan includes an additional 7,400 megawatts of energy storage and the possibility of taking ownership of TerraPower’s Natrium nuclear energy facility at Kemmerer. The company may also take on two more small modular reactors co-located at coal plants in Utah.

PacifiCorp acknowledges that the shift away from coal may affect jobs and revenue in Wyoming. However, the company’s plan reflects a larger energy industry shift and opportunities for a more sustainable energy future. The power shift and transmission buildout are expected to result in a system-wide 70% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, an 87% reduction by 2035, and a 100% reduction by 2050.

Of PacifiCorp’s 11 coal-fired power units in Wyoming, only two will continue burning coal beyond 2030: Wyodak near Gillette and Unit 4 at the Dave Johnston plant in Glenrock. Several coal units will be converted to natural gas, including Jim Bridger units 3 and 4 in 2030 and Naughton units 1 and 2 in 2026. Dave Johnston Unit 3 will be retired in 2027, and units 1 and 2 will be retired in 2028 instead of 2027.

The retrofitting of coal-fired power units with carbon capture, use, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies is not feasible due to higher costs and lower generation capacity. However, PacifiCorp is exploring the potential for taking on CCUS retrofits for Dave Johnston Unit 4 and Jim Bridger units 3 and 4.

PacifiCorp’s plan aligns with the Biden administration’s goal of transitioning to a clean energy economy and reducing carbon emissions. The company’s efforts to shift towards renewable energy sources will help mitigate the effects of climate change, while also creating job opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

Overall, PacifiCorp’s plans to accelerate its renewable energy shift and retire most Wyoming coal plants by 2032 represent a significant step towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. The shift away from coal may come with short-term challenges, but it reflects a larger trend in the energy industry towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources.

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