RMP completes $3.1 billion energy project in Wyoming

Rocky Mountain Power’s Naughton Plant is shown above. The power company recently completed a portion of its Energy Gateway transmission project. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

CASPER — A bold program, more than doubling PacifiCorp’s wind energy production by adding new wind resources, upgrading its existing wind turbine fleet and constructing a key segment of the company’s Energy Gateway transmission projects, is now complete. The benefits include lower customer costs, reduced emissions and a modernized, more reliable grid that serves PacifiCorp’s Rocky Mountain Power and Pacific Power divisions as well as interconnected neighbors across the West. PacifiCorp is following this initiative with an even larger deployment of new renewable resources, storage and transmission by 2024.

The program began in 2017 when PacifiCorp announced its $3.1 billion Energy Vision 2020 initiative including:

• Four new wind projects located in Wyoming: Cedar Springs 1, Cedar Springs 2; Ekola Flats; TB Flats, totaling 1,150 megawatts of new generating capability.

• Re-powering nearly all of the company’s existing wind fleet located in Wyoming, Washington and Oregon, which involved installing new larger state-of-the-art nacelles and blades—increasing the output and useful life of about 1,000 megawatts of existing generating capability from the same wind source.

• Construction of 140 miles of new high voltage transmission from the newly built Aeolus substation near Medicine Bow, Wyoming, to the new Anticline substation near the Jim Bridger power plant east of Rock Springs, Wyoming. The new transmission eliminates existing constraints, connects the new generation resources to customers and enhances network reliability with deployment of advanced voltage control technology.

In addition to the Energy Vision 2020 projects, three other wind projects were completed during this period: the repowering of the company’s 40-megawatt Foote Creek I project, near Medicine Bow, Wyoming, which was the company’s pioneering wind investment in 1999 and one of the first major wind projects in the West; Pryor Mountain, a new 240-megawatt wind project located in Montana; and Cedar Springs III, a new 120-megawatt wind project located in Wyoming, from which PacifiCorp purchases the electrical output via a long-term power purchase agreement.

“This achievement is cause for celebrating the hard work of dedicated employees and our contractors, who worked cooperatively with state utility regulators, local county and city officials, and community residents to get this job done,” said Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, PacifiCorp’s retail service division in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. “Everyone involved, inside and outside the company, in working to complete these projects deserves congratulations.”

“These projects now provide low-cost renewable energy throughout our service area,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power, PacifiCorp’s retail service division in Oregon, Washington and California. “This is a major step forward in realizing our vision of a future where PacifiCorp delivers energy to our customers affordably, reliably and without greenhouse gas emissions. A future where our vast, modern energy grid connects local communities to the low-cost and reliable energy they need to innovate and achieve their goals.”

While completion of these projects is significant, PacifiCorp’s next step as outlined in its integrated resource plan (IRP) is even larger. As a result of the two-year planning process that culminated in the 2019 IRP, PacifiCorp issued in 2020 a Request for Proposals, or a call for competitive bids, that was the largest in the company’s history. After receiving more than seven gigawatts of competitive proposals, the rigorous process resulted in a final short-list of 3,250 megawatts of solar, wind and storage resources.

As was the case for Energy Vision 2020, many of these resource additions rely upon the construction of new transmission that will interconnect those resources to PacifiCorp’s multi-state network. This includes more than 440 miles of new transmission representing additional Energy Gateway segments, which have been undergoing federal and local permitting process during the past decade. Contract negotiations with the final shortlist bidders are proceeding with the objective to complete the renewable generation, storage and transmission projects by 2024.

The company’s work toward a new energy future is rapidly advancing, as PacifiCorp is also adding large volumes of solar resources, advanced grid technology that empowers customers, and exploring a potential new advanced nuclear and storage facility with TerraPower among other technologies in its diversified clean energy strategy. PacifiCorp’s most recent IRP is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 1. This latest plan will set forth the company’s roadmap for the least-cost, least-risk resources to serve customers using the best, most current information to ensure customers continue to get the best value for their energy dollars.

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