Planning Our Energy Future
The energy decisions made today will have lasting consequences to Utah’s air, economy, health and environment. In fact, over the next 20 years, over $200 billion will be invested on energy resources in the West. Will Utah invest in non-polluting clean energies, or will we sink that money back into resources that pollute our air and water and deplete our natural resources? These decisions are made in a regulatory docket called Integrated Resource Planning (IRP), and will impact all Utahns long into the future.
The IRP is an ongoing, ever evolving document that serves as a roadmap for a Utility to decide what combination of energy resources, and how much of each (energy efficiency, coal, renewables, natural gas etc.) it will utilize to meet its customers energy needs. On April 4, 2017, PacifiCorp released their current plan. The release of this 2017 IRP is the culmination of months of working groups and analysis where Utah Clean Energy worked to accelerate the cost-effective transition to more energy efficiency and renewable energy into Utah’s energy mix.
The good news is that this IRP appears to show that RMP is starting to transition away from coal and planning on more renewables. There are, however, issues with PacifiCorp’s planning methods, which we need to dig into. Looking ahead, we have some work to do to figure out if PacifiCorp’s plan is good for a clean energy future and fair to ratepayers over the long term. In other words, it needs a closer look.
This IRP also looks to energy efficiency to meet 89% of the utility’s energy growth going forward, which is positive. However, given that the rate of electricity demand is slowing down in Utah, this actually means the utility plans to pursue less energy efficiency. In fact, the IRP proposes a 32% cut in the amount of electricity savings that Rocky Mountain Power achieves in 2018 and a 27% cut over the next 20 years. We need to make sure the utility is taking advantage of all cost-effective energy efficiency possible, and not ease up just because demand for electricity is decreasing.
The final preferred portfolio of resources includes 1100 MW of wind (over the 428 included in the draft preferred portfolio previewed to stakeholders a month ago). This increase is likely due to the late addition of a new transmission line into the mix. This last-minute change to the results looks promising for wind, but transmission lines are expensive and controversial; we will need to look at how PacifiCorp came to the conclusions it did to ensure they are forward-looking and risk-conscious.
Below are details on the IRP and background:
For 2017 IRP Presentations click here: http://www.pacificorp.com/es/irp/pip.html
For 2017 IRP Support Studies click here: http://www.pacificorp.com/es/irp/irpsupport.html
For 2017 DSM Potential Study click here: http://www.pacificorp.com/es/dsm.html
For UCE comments on 2017 IRP click here: http://www.pacificorp.com/es/irp/irpcomments.html
The 2017 IRP picks up every two years. Take a look back at where things left off from the last finalized IRP: