Idaho, Oregon, and Utah Commission Orders on PacifiCorp IRPs

On September 1, 2021, PacifiCorp filed its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or Idaho Commission), Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC or Oregon Commission), and the Utah Public Service Commission (UPSC or Utah Commission). The Idaho Commission accepted and acknowledged the 2021 IRP in an August 30, 2022 written order. The Oregon Commission acknowledged the 2021 IRP, with conditions, at a public meeting on March 29, 2022, and memorialized that decision in an order on May 23, 2022. The Utah Commission declined to acknowledge the 2021 IRP in an order issued on June 2, 2022. 

The IRP is a road map for providing reliable and least-cost, least-risk electric service to the utility’s customers, consistent with state and federal energy policies, while addressing and planning for uncertainties. The primary outcome of the process is the selection of a portfolio of resources with the best combination of expected costs and associated risks and uncertainties for the utility and its customers. After selecting a best cost/risk portfolio, the utility develops a proposed “Action Plan” of resource activities to undertake over the next two to four years to implement the plan.

The Utah Commission declined to acknowledge PacifiCorp’s 2021 IRP because it found that PacifiCorp failed to substantially comply with the Utah Guidelines during its development of the IRP. The Utah Commission specifically cites PacifiCorp’s decision to not include any new natural gas peaking resources in its model, potentially blocking a cost-effective resource from being modeled. Additionally, the Utah Commission and Staff chastised PacifiCorp for precluding “meaningful participation in the IRP process by failing to timely provide stakeholders with the basic and essential information they require in order to participate in planned stakeholder discussions.”

The Idaho Commission accepted and acknowledged PacifiCorp’s 2021 IRP. The IPUC reasoned that the IRP was in the appropriate format and contained all the required information. The IPUC directed PacifiCorp in its next IRP to examine whether its portfolios achieved specific reliability targets set out in the 2021 IRP and explain in more detail front office transactions and availability to fulfill capacity requirements. Finally, the IPUC encouraged PacifiCorp to explore natural gas resource selection and assess the technology risks and potential delays of the Natrium nuclear plant.

The Oregon Commission acknowledged PacifiCorp’s 2021 IRP with a number of conditions.

PacifiCorp will perform additional studies regarding offshore wind, including conducting a stakeholder process to determine what source the offshore wind cost data in the 2023 IRP will rely on, and conduct and publish an analysis that compares the development of offshore wind with the resources associated with the next RFP. PacifiCorp will also provide additional analysis regarding offshore wind in local transmission studies.

PacifiCorp will perform a variety of analyses regarding pumped storage hydro in its next IRP, including a careful comparison with other possible pumped storage hydro projects. PacifiCorp will develop and run a sensitivity that considers locations or online dates for large, flexible loads such as hydrogen electrolysis within the 2023 IRP. The next IRP will include a workshop to discuss increasing efficiency and demand response, including the consideration of a new, or updated, risk-reduction credit to efficiency.

Regarding the Qualifying Facility (QF) contract renewal rate, PacifiCorp’s IRP modeling assumed that QFs will not renew after their initial contract term. Historically, the renewal rate has been significantly higher than zero, thus the Oregon Commission directed PacifiCorp to forecast a likely QF contract renewal rate.

In the ongoing transition of the Jim Bridger transition away from coal-powered generation, the Oregon Commission required PacifiCorp to perform additional and more varied analyses regarding Units 3 and 4. Further, the Oregon Commission directed PacifiCorp to file an updated long-term fuel plan for Jim Bridger with its 2023 IRP. PacifiCorp will also initiate the process of potentially retiring Naughton Units 1 and 2 by the end of December 2025.

PacifiCorp’s 2021 IRP also included multiple transmission projects, including Gateway South and a number of Local Reinforcement Projects. The Oregon Commission acknowledged all of the projects but noted that it did not view the information provided in the IRP as “exemplary of the kind of open, transparent, and thorough process that ratepayers are entitled to when backing billions of dollars in long-term transmission investment.”

Additionally, the Oregon Commission did not acknowledge the full scope of PacifiCorp’s proposed action items related to the Natrium nuclear plant because it found that the few specifics presented on the project were currently too uncertain to warrant acknowledgment in this IRP.

Finally, during the proceeding there was a dispute regarding the designation of highly confidential data. In the 2023 IRP, PacifiCorp will meet with developer intervenors, to determine a subset of the confidential data supporting the 2023 IRP that does not include commercially sensitive information that can be provided.

Sanger Law, PC represented NIPPC and REC in this proceeding.

NIPPC represents electricity market participants in the Pacific Northwest, including independent power producers, electricity service suppliers, and transmission companies. NIPPC is committed to facilitating cost-effective electricity sales, offering consumers choices in their energy supply, and advancing fair, competitive power markets.

REC advocates for reasonable Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act and interconnection policies on behalf of renewable qualifying facilities that are located in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

These materials are intended to as informational and are not to be considered legal advice or legal opinion, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. Information included about previous case results does not assure a similar future result.