To meet Utah’s electricity demand for the next 20 years, PacifiCorp is tasked with mapping out what combination of energy resources it will leverage to power our lives. It’s called the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), and impacts every Utah family and business. Utah Clean Energy’s experts intervene in every IRP process, making the case for a cleaner, climate-friendly energy plan that moves away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
PacifiCorp must consider a variety of factors when looking at energy options. At the top of that list is figuring out what types of energy will provide a reliable, affordable mix of energy that also protects the public interest from risks – which in Utah Clean Energy’s view - must include protection against the significant risks and impacts of climate change.
While the IRP won’t be finalized until late 2019, Utah Clean Energy's intervention successfully argued for improvements including:
- Improving the cost assumptions for future carbon regulation. Higher carbon costs are more indicative of the huge risks we face and they make renewables more attractive and fossil resources even less economic.
- More accurate price assumptions for large-scale renewables. Historically, the Utility has used outdated prices that were too high, making renewable energy less economic in their long term planning. They have updated pricing to better reflect how affordable renewable energy has become.
The above improvements have paid off! In late 2018, Rocky Mountain Power presented findings of their new coal plant retirement study. The study analyzed whether closing some of Rocky Mountain Power's coal plants and replacing them with cheaper renewables would financially benefit customers. This article in Utility Dive provides a good rundown of the study results. Long story short, the study found that customers would likely see significant economic benefits if Rocky Mountain Power began phasing in early coal plant retirements. While Rocky Mountain Power still needs to complete its coal plant retirement study, the early findings suggest that customers would benefit from early coal plant retirements.
We need to maximize renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, and plan for the earlier retirement of its oldest, uneconomic coal plants. Utah Clean Energy's utility experts will be front-and-center throughout the 2019 IRP process to help move Utah's energy portfolio away from antiquated, dirty resources, and towards a cost-effective clean energy future.