PacifiCorp launches wind expansion plans with four Wyoming projects

Source: By Robert Walton, Utility Dive • Posted: Friday, February 23, 2018

Dive Brief:

  • PacifiCorp, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company, has selected four new wind projects totaling 1.3 GW as part of its Energy Vision 2020 initiative to significantly expand the company’s clean energy resources.
  • All four projects are located in Wyoming with construction slated for next year. The wind farms are expected online in 2020 and come with a pricetag of $1.5 billion, nearly half of its original estimate of $3 billion.
  • Oregon regulators were initially skeptical of PacifiCorp’s plan and whether the new resources were necessary.  The utility’s wind expansion comes alongside a review of its existing coal assets to determine if they are still economic.

Dive Insight:

Staff of the Oregon Public Utilities Commission had opposed the utility’s $3 billion wind plan, but regulators had “acknowledged” the company’s Energy Vision 2020, clearing the way for PacifiCorp to begin work.

The utility issued a request for proposals last fall, and selected four projects in Wyoming totaling 1,311 MW through a competitive bidding process. PacifiCorp will own and operate most of the generation, purchasing the rest through a power purchase agreement.

In Converse County, NextEra Energy Resources will build and own half of a 400 MW project, and deliver energy to PacifiCorp through a PPA. PacifiCorp will own the other half of the plant and operate it.

Invenergy will build a 161 MW project in Uinta County and then transfer it to PacifiCorp. For the final two projects totaling 750 MW, PacifiCorp will build, own and operate them.  PacifiCorp serves customers in Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and California.

The company’s plans include more than new generation. PacifiCorp will also upgrade its existing owned wind fleet in Wyoming, Washington and Oregon, and will build a high-voltage transmission line in Wyoming to connect with new wind facilities.

Completing the projects by 2020 will allow PacifiCorp to access the federal wind production tax credit before it expires. In the meantime, PacifiCorp is currently reviewing its coal resources to determine if they still make economic sense at the behest of Oregon regulators. The study is set to be completed in June.