PacifiCorp and subsidiary Rocky Mountain Power, announced a long-term, $3.5 billion energy expansion plan to develop and deploy 3 gigawatts of new wind and solar generation by 2036. The new integrated resource plan (IRP) includes upgrading 900 megawatts of existing wind plants and constructing a 140-mile segment of the Gateway West transmission line to spur further wind and solar development in the Rocky Mountain west region.
“These investments will significantly increase the amount of clean renewable energy serving customers and reduce costs at the same time,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power, PacifiCorp which serves Oregon, Washington and California. “This is a win-win and represents our continued commitment to both reduce the environmental impact of the energy we produce and keep costs low.”
The Gateway West transmission line project will ultimately traverse 1,000 miles from Casper, WY, to Boise, Idaho. PacifiCorp’s investment and construction of the line is planned to span 140 miles from Medicine Bow, WY, to the Jim Bridger power plant near Rock Springs, WY.
It is expected to enable PacifiCorp to bring more than 1 gigawatt of solar power online between 2028 and 2036. Seventy-seven percent of the expected solar projects are planned for deployment in Utah. The remaining 23 percent of solar will be installed throughout PacifiCorp’s six-state-service area.
Wyoming has nearly 1.5 gigawatts of wind capacity and ranks 15th in the US, according to the American Wind Energy Association. PacifiCorp’s long-term plan will allow for the development of 1.1 gigawatts of new wind projects in Wyoming by 2020. The utility plans to develop an additional 859 megawatts of wind between 2028 and 2036 with 85 megawatts in Wyoming and 774 megawatts in Idaho.
Construction of Gateway West in Wyoming could help bring future renewable energy projects and economic development to the state. "This ambitious plan–a nearly $3 billion investment in Wyoming–diversifies Wyoming's economy, expands markets, presents workforce training opportunities, adds jobs and strengthens the tax base in local communities," said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead (R).
Still, the majority of Wyoming’s energy comes from coal burning power plants. It only had 1.4 megawatts of installed solar by the end of 2016, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Some legislators want to keep it that way. Earlier this year state legislators proposed a bill that would charge utilities $10 per megawatt-hour for generating electricity from wind and solar projects in the state.