PacifiCorp Inks More Approvals For Wind, Transmission Expansion

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Having received the final two state approvals needed to move forward with the its Energy Vision 2020 initiative, PacifiCorp is proceeding with plans to significantly expand its wind energy production.

A favorable order from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission on July 20 followed approval from the Utah Public Service Commission on June 22. Wyoming, the third state in PacifiCorp’s six-state service territory that provides for regulatory review ahead of major capital investments, issued its conditional certificates of public convenience and necessity on April 12. In addition, Oregon and Washington have signaled support for the Energy Vision 2020 initiative as part of PacifiCorp’s 2017 integrated resource plan.

PacifiCorp’s Energy Vision 2020 project adds three new wind projects in Wyoming that will provide a total 1,150 MW of new wind energy capacity; add a new 140-mile, high-voltage transmission line, also in Wyoming; and repower 900 MW of existing wind resources in Wyoming and Washington. The new wind projects will increase the amount of owned and contracted wind capacity on PacifiCorp’s system by more than 60% and add enough new wind energy to power more than 400,000 average homes by 2020. The repowering projects will upgrade the company’s existing wind fleet with longer blades and newer technology, expected to boost output by more than 25% and extend the life of the wind turbines.

“As this exciting initiative receives these approvals, we look forward to the benefits the projects will bring to all our customers in the form of low-cost renewable energy and a more robust transmission system,” says Cindy A. Crane, CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, a PacifiCorp division serving Idaho, Utah and Wyoming customers. “These investments will significantly expand the company’s Wyoming wind fleet and benefit both state and local economies.”

PacifiCorp estimates its total investment for the Energy Vision 2020 projects will be just over $3 billion – a reduction from the initial $3.5 billion cost estimate when the projects were first announced in April 2017. The lower cost estimate is due to changes in project scope and reduced project costs realized through a competitive procurement process, the company says. Completing the projects by 2020 will allow customers to realize the full benefit of production tax credits and provide a net savings for customers over the life of the projects, PacifiCorp adds.

In addition to the broad regulatory reviews and approvals in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, the Industrial Siting Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality took action approving the permit for the TB Flats project on June 22 – one of the three new planned wind projects.

Oregon, Washington and California do not have statutes that allow commissions to provide similar regulatory review prior to construction of major projects. In those states, the full review and prudency determinations will come later when the company seeks permission to recover project costs. Regulatory commissions in all states will continue to monitor and conduct reviews of the Energy Vision 2020 projects.

Pending acquisition of remaining rights of way, receipt of permits and execution of final contracts, construction on the projects is expected to start in 2019. The majority of the repowering projects are planned to be complete in 2019, with the remainder in 2020. Completion of the new wind and transmission projects also will occur in 2020, says PacifiCorp.

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