Jim Bridger Targeted for Carbon Capture Tech

Jim Bridger Targeted for Carbon Capture Tech

The Jim Bridger coal-fired power plant, pictured Jan. 19, 2022, has been in operation since the mid-1970s. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

ROCK SPRINGS – PacifiCorp is looking to install carbon capture technology at the Jim Bridger Power Plant according to an update to the company’s integrated resource plan (IRP), signaling a desire to continue using coal for some power generation.

The company updated the IRP April 1, and mentions the installation of carbon capture technology on Units 3 and 4 for the power plant. The IRP outlines who the company plans to produce energy for the next two decades and is continually updated. The company is mandated to use the most cost effective means of producing power, a stance that has guided its approach towards supporting renewable energy and the Natrium nuclear reactor it is partnering with TerraPower to build in Kemmerer. The Wyoming Public Service Commissioner will review the IRP.

While it would appear PacifiCorp is possibly reconsidering a stance on moving away from coal, the carbon capture technology will only extend the life of the two units by two years. The IRP states the two units would be retrofitted with the technology in 2028 and operate through 2039, when the two units would be retired. The original plan would have had the two units converted to natural gas in 2030 retired in 2037. This plan extends the life of the two units to allow the company to capture a full 12 years of investment tax credits. According to the update, the plant’s other two units will be converted to natural gas this year and operate until a 2037 retirement.

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Gov. Mark Gordon issued a statement following PacifiCorp’s announcement it would install carbon capture technology at Jim Bridger.

“Just a few years ago, the Integrated Resource Plans being submitted to the Wyoming Public Service Commission were all targeted towards the elimination of coal-fired power plants. The Wyoming Legislature and I were concerned with this limited-option direction, and in 2019 the legislature responded with SF159, which provided that before closing any coal units, a good faith effort must be made to sell that unit,” he said. “In addition, the legislature passed HB200 in 2020, requiring the regulated utilities to evaluate using carbon capture technology on coal-fired power plants to meet lower CO2 standards being mandated by federal regulations and consumer preferences. These were meant to be additional options for consideration, along with additional wind and solar. Granted the IRP are plans and do change, but to select carbon capture as the preferred portfolio for Jim Bridger Power Plant Units 3 and 4, is an accurate reflection of the need to be able to produce 24-hour dispatchable power.  It is a remarkable change of direction, which – if shown to be economically beneficial – will be a win for Wyoming, our consumers, and the consumers served by PacifiCorp.”