PacifiCorp announces clean energy proposal for Utah

PacifiCorp d/b/a Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) on Oct. 27 announced an ambitious, new energy plan that will help reduce emissions and strengthen the economy in Utah.

The Utah Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan (STEP) includes incentives to reduce the use of fossil-fuel power plants in the Wasatch Front, create the state’s first zero emissions community and put thousands of electric vehicles on Utah roads.

“The electric industry is changing at a rapid pace and Rocky Mountain Power wants to lead with significant changes that will improve our air and add to Utah’s robust economy,” said Cindy A. Crane, Rocky Mountain Power president and CEO. “With the help of many partners we can bring all of these benefits with minimal additional costs to our customers.”

Rocky Mountain Power has been seeking input from the Utah governor’s office, legislators, regulators, business leaders and other key stakeholders as it prepares a legislative proposal to make STEP a reality. STEP has been divided into three areas: clean air and energy, economic development and sustainable energy policy.

Some of the key features of the plan are:

Clean Air and Energy

  • Air Quality: Establish a voluntary approach to eliminate or reduce emissions from customer-owned or utility-owned power plants along the Wasatch Front.
  • Electric Vehicles: Provide incentives for electric vehicles and infrastructure. More electric vehicles will reduce emissions and improve Utah’s air quality.
  • Innovative Technology and Efficiency: Increase funding on energy efficiency programs, support solar development as part of a net zero community project in coordination with the Utah Office of Energy Development, and identify opportunities for use of utility-scale distributed battery storage on a pilot basis.
  • Keep Coal Competitive: Make investments in clean coal research at Utah power plants that may help the plants operate through their useful lives and meet new environmental regulations. PacifiCorp has two coal-fired plants in Utah, Hunter and Huntington. A third, the Carbon plant, was shut earlier this year for clean-air purposes.
  • Accelerate Plant Payments: Increase flexibility for environmental compliance by paying down thermal power plant investments while deferring collection of energy efficiency costs.

Economic Development

  • Economic Incentives: Develop energy rate incentives with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to attract new businesses.
  • Line Extensions: Reduce line extension costs for commercial developers to support economic growth and help create jobs.

Sustainable Energy Policy

  • Cost Recovery: Rocky Mountain Power is seeking an energy policy that allows for a consistent recovery of variable costs of energy production in providing electricity to utility customers.
  • Energy Savings Incentive: Establish incentives for utility investments in energy efficiency measures that deliver energy savings.
  • Fixed Costs: Evaluate the need for legislative changes so rates reflect the actual fixed costs for providing electricity to customers.

STEP introduces a broad offering of programs over a defined ten-year period to improve air quality, support economic development and promote energy efficiency. These programs will be funded by consolidating the Customer Efficiency Services charge and the Utah Solar Incentive Program surcharges with minimal impacts to customers. Rocky Mountain Power said it will continue working with government and business leaders to implement STEP with the anticipation that several elements in the program would begin later next year.

Bill Corcoran, Western Regional Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said Oct. 27 in response to this announcement: “While we are still gathering information on RMP’s proposal, today’s announcement signals hope to Utahns across the state that RMP may truly begin to lead on clean energy and improving air quality throughout Utah. Whether it’s fighting to keep dirty coal plants running or attacking rooftop solar and energy choice, RMP has a long history of undermining the very goals they announced today. Today’s announcement, for example, includes yet another proposal from RMP that would penalize customers who conserve energy and want the flexibility to make their own energy choices. We need to see more than words from RMP. We need to see real action and commitment to improve air quality and support the growth of clean energy in Utah.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.