More Wind Power Blowing This Way

Jul 25, 2018

Credit Rocky Mountain Power

Rocky Mountain Power has major wind and transmission expansion plans that include new farms and updating existing systems in Wyoming.  Currently the state of Utah still gets most of its power from coal burning plants. Park City and Summit County have plans to be net zero over the next 15 years. Rocky Mountain Power continues to work on strategies to help the City and County reach their goals. Carolyn Murray has this:

Dave Eskelsen is the Rocky Mountain Power Spokesperson and says their plan includes new wind projects along with upgrades to existing farms.  He says the regulatory permit process is well under way but they still are working on local land use and site approvals.  They plan to have service running by 2020.            

“There are new wind projects totaling about 150 megawatts and we’re repowering the wind projects we already own. There will be new turban sets and new wind blades on the turbines themselves to increase their efficiency and capability. And then there will be a new 141 mile transmission line in Wyoming to help move this power to where it needs to go. A lot of that will be coming to Utah because Utah is 44 % of the company’s business.”

Eskelsen says the 2020 wind project is one part of Rocky Mountain Power’s supply portfolio.   The 1150 megawatts from the new wind would provide power for about 400,000 homes.

“That’s roughly equivalent to the hydroelectric capability that we currently have and looking at the proportion, we’re looking at about 15 to 20 % wind and renewable. Hydro right now is about 12%. Natural gas is 24 % and our coal plants are about 45 % of the energy we supply to customers”

Rocky Mountain Power offers a subscriber solar program to customers on a voluntary basis.  Eskelsen says the Blue Sky Solar installation near Holden Utah generates power at a higher price than wind.

“Our regulators wanted those programs to be done on a voluntary basis so that customers were not generally subsidizing the cost of that solar installation. In the wind projects we had to go through a regulatory review to insure those projects were in the public interest and could be supported by the rates of all customers.”

Eskelsen says they’ve committed to keeping rates the same for the next three years.

“We believe that because of the availability of the production tax credit, that will substantially write down the costs of both the repowering and the new wind projects and the cost of the transmission line.”

Eskelsen says the pricing strategy Rocky Mountain Power uses to help communities like Park City reach their net zero goals is complicated.   

“The work that we are doing in those communities has to do with a particular tariff to enable them to meet their renewable goals.  We are working with the Utah Public Service Commission to design that tariff.”

Eskelsen says they are on a deadline to complete the Wind and Transmission Line Projects by 2020 in order to qualify for the production tax credit.