Wrapping Up the 2021 Integrated Resource Plan and Gearing Up for the Next Round

Before wrapping up the 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in the next few months, we are ramping up the development process for the 2023 IRP and moving forward with bringing online a significant number of renewable energy resources. No rest for the weary.

As a refresher, the IRP is a planning tool that Rocky Mountain Power uses to determine how much energy its customers will need over the next 20 years, and what resources it needs to build to satisfy that customer demand. Rocky Mountain Power filed its 2021 IRP last September, and Utah Clean Energy submitted our first round of comments to the Utah Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulates electric utilities, on March 4, 2022.  

Highlights of the 2021 IRP

Some of the highlights from the 2021 IRP include confirmation that over 3000 MW of wind, solar, and battery storage resources originally selected in the 2019 IRP are still the most cost-effective resource options in the next few years. Rocky Mountain Power is now in the process of negotiating contracts for these resources and recently gained approval from the Public Service Commission to procure them without obtaining regulatory approval first. This will hopefully allow greater flexibility to help bring these important resources online by the end of 2024.

The 2021 IRP also selected an overall resource portfolio that would decrease carbon emissions from Rocky Mountain Power’s system by 74% by 2030. This is a substantial decrease in emissions, and a good sign that we are moving towards a decarbonized future here in Utah. However, it is important to note that many of these emission reductions come from running coal plants less than we currently run them. Many of Rocky Mountain Power’s coal plants, including those in Utah, are still scheduled to run for decades. Further, the IRP does not dictate how Rocky Mountain Power uses its energy generating resources, its just a planning tool. In other words, the utility could run its coal plants more than the IRP calls for, which would slow down the decarbonization rate. We need the utility to commit to operating its carbon emitting resources in manner that is consistent with the 2021 IRP portfolio, so we can achieve these emission’s reductions and build on them moving forward.

Next Up

Utah Clean Energy’s comments on 2021 IRP covers what resources should be considered for the future, the new proposed nuclear plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming, the effect of beneficial electrification on the amount of customer energy demand moving forward, and how Rocky Mountain Power should be incorporating climate change as a variable in the IRP process. We are also participants in the IRP stakeholder meetings for the 2023 IRP, and look forward to partnering with other stakeholders to implement our recommendations in this upcoming IRP process.

AUTHOR

Hunter Holman

Hunter Holman

Staff Attorney

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