How much will the project cost, and what projects will be included in the Energy Vision 2020 initiative?
The $3.5 billion investment includes repowering the existing company-owned wind fleet by 2020 with longer blades and newer technology to increase energy production and extend the life of the projects. There will also be 1,150 megawatts of new wind by 2020, likely in Wyoming, as well as the construction of a new 140-mile, 500-kilovolt Gateway West transmission segment by the year 2020.
Why are you doing this project now?
By moving to complete the projects by 2020, the company will be able to use federal Production Tax Credits (PTC) to provide a net cost savings to customers over the life of the projects. We are considering it now because Congress has extended the Production Tax Credit for wind projects that are built by December 31, 2020. This requires the company to start seeking permits and RFPs by this summer to give customers the maximum benefits from these wind projects. After the deadline, the tax benefits that can be passed on to customers will decrease by 20 percent each year. The proposed projects could be nixed if it is determined it is not in the best interests of our customers. The Energy Vision 2020 projects were chosen by the company as the most cost-effective option to meet customers’ energy needs over the next 20 years.
How does the Production Tax Credit (PTC) help the utility with the EV2020 projects?
The federal production tax credit is currently 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour. That means the company receives a tax credit in that amount for energy produced from the facilities for ten years after the facilities come into service, as long as they are in service by the end of 2020. The company will use the tax credits to help pay for the assets rather than ask customers to pay the full bill for them. Our Repowering program extends the life of our wind farms. It also enables us to upgrade most of our existing owned wind fleet, by 2020, with longer blades and new technology that will generate more energy in a wider range of wind conditions. But by doing it now and getting the tax credits, we can pay for the upgrades, which will result in a net savings of about $300 million. The tax credits will help provide a net savings to customers over the life of the projects, compared to other alternatives to meet our expected energy demand.
How much tax revenue will be created with all of these projects?
Energy Vision 2020 will add approximately $120 million in tax revenue from construction and bring significant post-construction annual tax revenues, starting at approximately $11 million in 2021 and growing to $14 million annually by 2024.
How will Energy Vision 2020 benefit Wyoming’s economy?
Our Energy Vision 2020 plan will help diversify the state’s economy, create jobs and add to the tax base. We expect the projects to create between 1,000 and 1,400 construction jobs and approximately 100 permanent positions. The initiative will also add approximately $70 million in tax revenues through construction and additional $11 million annually in tax revenue starting in 2021, growing to approximately $14 million annually in 2024.
Will Energy Vision 2020 projects increase customer rates?
By taking advantage of federal tax credits, these investments will pay for themselves and result in additional net savings to customers. The savings and Production Tax Credit (PTC) benefits generated by repowering our wind fleet will be passed directly on to customers and will help keep rates low. The wind fleet upgrade project more than pays for itself by generating more power, reducing operations costs, extending the lifespan of our wind fleet and taking advantages of current incentives. The tax credits associated with new wind resources will not increase rates, but will result in a net savings to customers.
How many jobs will Energy Vision 2020 create?
The projects are expected to create between 1,000 and 1,400 construction jobs in Wyoming and approximately 100 permanent full-time positions. These investments will provide significant long-term benefits to our customers and bring substantial economic benefits to rural communities where the facilities will be located.
How can I apply for a job with this project?
As part of PacifiCorp, Rocky Mountain Power is always looking for talented, enthusiastic and skilled people who want to join a leading energy company and continue driving the company's success. Our company offers team members competitive compensation, opportunities for advancement, comprehensive benefits (including medical, dental and vision insurance), life insurance, generous paid time off and company holidays, retirement planning and savings options, and tuition reimbursement. You can be an important part of our dynamic workplace. Full listing of current job openings.
If my company wants to bid on construction of the projects, what is the process?
Our company values open relationships with its suppliers. Our customers, shareholders and employees expect the highest quality and service in every aspect of our business. We maintain that same standard for our suppliers and believe quality, service and cost advantages are best achieved when we work collaboratively toward common goals. The Resource Supply Request for Proposals is initiated from the Action Plan within PacifiCorp's Integrated Resource Plan. For questions or more information, please send us an email (SupplyRFP@PacifiCorp.com) or visit our website.
How many new wind turbines will be installed and where?
Approximately 400 new turbines will be installed to generate 1,150 megawatts, or enough energy to power approximately 400,000 average homes. Northeast Carbon and northwest Albany counties in Wyoming are locations the company has identified as possible locations.
What is the “life” of these turbines and windfarms?
The average lifespan is approximately 25 years. Our Repowering program will extend the life of our current wind farms and, by 2020, upgrade most of our existing owned wind fleet with longer blades and new technology that will generate more energy in a wider range of wind conditions. When the Project begins to reach the end of its useful life, the Project owner will either make plans to upgrade or replace the equipment to extend the Project’s operating life, or make plans to remove the Project. When the Project is decommissioned, all visible Project features will be removed and the surface of the site will be restored. After decommissioning, there will be essentially no lasting visual impact of any consequence.
When the wind farm is at the end of its life, how do you dismantle it? Will they all end up in our local landfill?
Wyoming’s Industrial Siting Council (ISC) drives our reclamation requirements, which includes bonding. Decommissioning of the project is a detailed, step-by-step process that involves removing and disposing of Project infrastructure and facilities. Generally, wind farm projects that are decommissioned contain a high “scrap value” and, in some cases, there is a secondary market (resale) for many items. Reclamation of the area includes regrading, adding topsoil and completing revegetation of all disturbed areas. Demolition or removal of equipment and facilities will meet environmental and health regulations and attempt to salvage economically recoverable materials or to recycle the Project site for future uses. Lastly, all disturbed areas would be reclaimed and restored so prior ranching uses could be resumed.
With the construction of new wind farms, will Rocky Mountain Power close their coal-fired power plants?
Coal and gas will remain important industries for Rocky Mountain Power. These investments can provide the benefits of diversifying the economy without threatening existing industries and jobs. The new renewable resources are expected to reduce the overall dispatch of the coal fleet by a marginal amount, but will not accelerate the closure of any coal plants. Other factors, such as low natural gas prices and regulations, will continue to have a more direct impact on the planned life of coal plants. The additional transmission will relieve transmission bottlenecks and allow us to continue operating our coal plants efficiently. We don’t expect this project to change the useful life of these plants within the next 20 years.
When do you expect construction to begin on the Gateway West transmission project?
Construction will begin as soon as the needed permits are obtained, if the company decides to build this segment of Gateway West. The project would need to be completed by December 31, 2020.
When did permitting work begin on the Gateway West project, and how long has the company been working on Gateway West?
The Gateway West project was announced in 2007 and would be built in sections as conditions develop. The company’s website listed the range for in service dates for sections of the project in the 2019-2024 timeframe.
Where will construction on the Gateway West project take place?
Construction will take place from the Aeolus substation near Medicine Bow, Wyoming, to a substation near the Jim Bridger power plant outside Rock Springs, Wyoming. That section is approximately 140 miles long, with about half of that distance on Bureau of Land Management land.
What type of program do you have to protect wildlife in the areas where you are constructing new wind farms and the transmission line?
Rocky Mountain Power is fully engaged in identifying and addressing potential wildlife impacts throughout the siting, construction, operation, and decommissioning phases of our projects. Multiple years of data is collected to inform avoidance, minimization, and/or mitigation actions for project construction, operations, and decommissioning. These surveys may typically include habitat and usage surveys for avian, bat, and various wildlife species, including elk/antelope, prairie dogs, swift fox, greater sage grouse, and other protected species. Our company also continues to work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department staff on impact assessments and appropriate avoidance, minimization, and/or mitigation measures. We also have in place an informed curtailment program during high eagle usage periods. In 2012, Rocky Mountain Power began analyzing experimental curtailment activities to minimize collision risk of eagles with operating wind turbines. We developed a detailed informed curtailment program targeting high eagle usage seasons and times of day. Today, the program uses observation towers and biological observers who have access to the projects’ control system to curtail turbines based on real-time eagle and wind turbine collision risk. There are also nest buffers and seasonal construction setbacks that have been put into place as well as eagle nest surveys and ongoing annual monitoring. We also conduct ongoing avian/bat impact monitoring.
What is decommissioning?
Decommissioning is a methodical, step-by-step deconstruction process that involves removing the individual project infrastructure and facilities. Generally, decommissioned wind farm projects contain a high “scrap value” due to the materials and equipment contained in the project infrastructure (such as steel infrastructure, electric generators and the associated copper). Other decommissioning options include a secondary market for wind turbines.
Who is responsible for decommissioning?
PacifiCorp is a regulated utility and corporation, having served Wyoming customers for decades, and is financially responsible to ensure that the adequate decommissioning of its facilities occurs. When it comes time to decommission its facilities, PacifiCorp obtains necessary authorization from the appropriate regulatory agencies. Prior to construction, The State of Wyoming Industrial Siting Council guides reclamation requirements, for example.
What happens during a typical decommissioning procedure?
Demolition or removal of equipment and facilities will meet applicable environmental and health regulations and attempt to salvage economically recoverable materials. All turbines and their towers would be dismantled and either recycled at other wind-energy projects or sold for scrap. Transformers and electrical-control devices would either be reused in other applications or sold as scrap. Dismantlement of electrical substations and storage buildings would be accompanied by inspection for the presence of industrial contamination from minor spills or leaks, as well as any decontamination procedures as necessary. Turbine foundations and below-ground cable runs may be left in place below a specified depth. Turbine towers constructed partially of concrete would be broken up, and the concrete could be potentially used by highway departments for road base or bank stabilization or otherwise recycled. If no longer needed, the access road, onsite roads, rock or gravel in the electrical substations, transformer pads and building foundations would be removed and recycled. Disturbed land areas covered in rock or gravel or building/tower footprints would be restored to original grade (which would include adjusting soil compaction that might have resulted from previous uses) and reseeded or re-planted with native vegetation. All disturbed areas would be reclaimed and restored so prior ranching or other uses could be resumed.