Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. PAC-E-09-06, Acceptance of Filing

September 17, 2009

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712



PacifiCorp relies on renewable energy to meet future needs


State regulators have accepted a planning document filed by PacifiCorp that details how the utility intends to meet customer needs over the next decade. The utility serves customers in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, California and in eastern Idaho, where, operating as Rocky Mountain Power, it has about 70,000 customers.


PacifiCorp plans to add more than 1,423 megawatts of renewable energy and does not include any added coal generation in its plan.


The Idaho Public Utilities Commission requires that regulated electric utilities file an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) every two years. Acceptance of the plan by the commission does not guarantee that it will approve every project proposed during the 10-year period. “The IRP, as we continue to note, is a utility planning document that incorporates assumptions and projections at a point in time. It is the ongoing planning process that we acknowledge, not the conclusion or results,” the commission said.


PacifiCorp said it will begin to experience a capacity deficit in 2011 if steps are not taken soon to increase generation and reduce demand. The utility anticipates a growth rate of about 2.5 percent per year over the next decade. Further creating the need for more generation is the 2011 expiration of a major power purchase contract with the Bonneville Power Administration.


The vast majority of the 1,423 MW in anticipated new renewable generation is expected to come from wind (1,313 MW) with the rest coming from geothermal (35 MW) and major upgrades to existing hydroelectric facilities (75 MW).


On the conservation side, the utility plans to save just more than 900 MW from energy efficiency programs and another 105 to 325 MW from programs where the company remotely reduces demand from customers such as irrigators and industry during times of peak use. PacifiCorp also plans to add about 831 MW in gas-fired capacity between 2014 and 2016 and gain 170 MW of emissions-free capacity from coal plant turbine upgrades.


The company could have been short on capacity as soon as 2010, but took steps to meet increased demand in 2008 by acquiring a 520-MW natural gas plant in Chehalis, Washington, and adding 175 MW of additional wind resources.


PacifiCorp anticipates gaining access to more generation with the completion of its proposed Gateway transmission project, a joint project with Idaho Power Co. that will transport energy from eastern Wyoming, through southern Idaho (Gateway West) and through Utah (Gateway South).


Commission staff, which operates independently of the commission, commended the company for a diverse mix of generation resources, while adhering to imposed and pending environmental regulation. Staff found it noteworthy that coal-fired generation does not appear in the company’s portfolio of future generation sources.


Staff did express concern that the company anticipates a more than doubling of the wind integration cost assessed wind developers. The company’s 2007 IRP used a cost of $5.10 per megawatt-hour to integrate wind, but includes an $11.75 per MWh cost in the current IRP. Staff also said that costs included by the company to meet mandated renewable portfolio standards in other states were not adequately quantified.


The IRP was developed through a collaborative and public process with involvement from state utility commissions, advocacy groups and interested citizens. The document, including attachments, is available on the commission’s Web site at Click on the electric icon, then on “Electric Cases,” and scroll down to Case No. PAC-E-09-06.