WY Public Service Commission launches investigation into Rocky Mountain Power’s IRP

Jim Bridge Power Plant. Photo credit to the PacifiCorp website

By Ann Jantz, Wyo4News

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (Nov. 19, 2019) — The Wyoming Public Service Commission has launched an investigation into Rocky Mountain Power’s Integrated Resource Plan filed Oct. 18, 2019.

The order initiating the investigation was entered on Nov. 13. It notes the Public Service Commission is given authorization by Wyoming statute to “investigate any act or omission of a public utility to secure compliance with Wyoming public utility law.”

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The order states the potential impact of Rocky Mountain Power’s Preferred Portfolio on Wyoming customers is such that an investigation is warranted.

“Any decision to retire coal-fired generation units prior to the end of their established depreciable lives may adversely impact the cost and reliability of service provided to RMP’s Wyoming customers while producing significant negative economic impacts,” the order reads. “These impacts, individually and collectively, must be thoroughly evaluated to ensure implementation or the Preferred Portfolio is consistent with the public interest.”

Rocky Mountain Power’s Preferred Portfolio outlines a move to invest in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and battery storage — a 10-20 year electricity generation plan that ultimately results in the early closure of two Wyoming coal-fired power plants, the Jim Bridger plant in Rock Springs and the Naughton plant in Kemmerer.

Chris Petrie, secretary in chief and senior counsel for the Wyoming Public Service Commission, said to his knowledge the commission has not previously conducted an investigation into an IRP.

Petrie noted it is the greater than normal potential impact expected from this IRP that prompted the commission’s decision to investigate.

Some of the issues the investigation will look into include:

  • carbon dioxide emissions reductions;
  • the time period and specific customer impact of the calculated $111 million in customer benefits and costs of the replacement electrical generation. These include a look at resource choices, cost assumptions, environmental concerns related to decommissioning and supply chain, and whether the action plan timeline is realistic for regulatory approvals and construction;
  • reliability; and
  • inclusion of battery storage.

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The commission has scheduled three hearings at which the public will have an opportunity to comment.

  • Jan. 28, 2020: 4-7 p.m. in the Kemmerer City Council Chambers, 220 State Highway 233.
  • Jan. 29, 2020: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Rock Springs City Council Chambers, 212 D Street.
  • May 5-6, 2020: Commission’s Hearing Room, 2515 Warren Avenue in Cheyenne.

Petrie said he anticipated issuing an public notice soon which would establish a deadline for written comments and intervention by interested parties.

Rocky Mountain Power’s Preferred portfolio cited in the PSC’s order to initiate an investigation. (Credit Wyoming Public Service Commission)

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