Rocky Mountain Power’s 20-Year Plan Boosts Solar and Wind

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Berkshire Hathaway’s Rocky Mountain Power has unveiled a 20-year plan to provide electricity to its customers that includes adding more solar and wind and making existing wind turbines more efficient.

The $3.5 billion plan also incorporates building a segment of the Gateway West transmission line to facilitate the wind expansion.

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) was filed with utility regulators and is used as a road map to help the company provide reliable electric service to customers at the lowest cost. The 2017 IRP includes the following:

• Upgrading more than 900 megawatts of existing wind plants with larger blades and newer technology to generate 20 percent more energy in a wider range of wind conditions and capture federal production tax credit value for customers

• Beginning construction on a segment of the Gateway West 500-kilovolt transmission line between Medicine Bow, Wyoming, and the Jim Bridger power plant in the southwestern part of the state. The 140-mile line would enable additional wind generation, improve efficiency and relieve transmission congestion

• Facilitating construction of up to 1,100 megawatts of new wind projects, primarily in Wyoming, by the end of 2020, capturing federal production tax credit value for customers

• Adding up to another 859 megawatts of new wind – 85 megawatts in Wyoming and 774 megawatts in Idaho – between 2028 and 2036

• Building up to 1,040 megawatts of new solar between 2028 and 2036. Approximately 77 percent of the solar is assumed to be built in Utah and 23 percent to be built in states served by Pacific Power.

• Continuing a cost-conscious transition that adds more energy diversity, the plan incorporates the company’s environmental compliance obligations for its coal plants.

“This plan provides more diversity in the energy we use, which helps us keep electricity prices low for customers and improves the economies of our states,” said Cindy A. Crane, Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO. “The proposal is also a major investment that will produce more jobs, provide a stronger tax base and build transmission lines that will deliver reliable energy more efficiently for years to come.”

By moving to complete the wind upgrades and new wind developments by 2020, the company will be able to use federal production tax credits, which will help cover the costs of the investments and provide a net savings for customers over the life of the projects.

“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. “I look forward to working closely with Rocky Mountain Power. I see great potential for Wyoming workers and rate payers as this plan is implemented.”

Energy efficiency continues to play a key role in the company’s long term plans. The 2017 IRP anticipates energy efficiency will meet 88 percent of the energy growth needs during the next 10 years – up from 86 percent from the 2015 forecast.

A full IRP is developed every 2 years and an update is filed during off years.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.