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Rocky Mountain Power’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan outlines how we plan to meet the electricity needs of our Wyoming customers safely, affordably and reliably over the next 20 years. As I visit with customers and community leaders around the state, they have questions about what this means for Wyoming jobs, tax revenue, electricity bills and reliability of service. These questions are reasonable, and while the answers are sometimes difficult to hear, I think it’s helpful to share how we arrived at our conclusions.
The decision to retire some of our coal units earlier than previously considered is not a reflection on the performance of our exceptional employees. Our plants are some of the best-run in the industry. Rather, the decision is driven by the economics of providing electricity. As a regulated utility, we are required to provide service to our customers in the lowest-cost and least-risk manner.
Our 2019 Integrated Resource Plan sets forth a change in how we supply our customers’ electricity, without compromising reliability, resulting in a historic investment in new renewable energy and transmission infrastructure, with tremendous opportunities for the state of Wyoming and the West. It includes investments in new renewable resources, energy storage and modern grid technology. It outlines investment in new transmission lines that are needed to increase capacity and improve reliability for customers, so the lowest-cost resources can flow freely to all our customers.
Resources like wind and solar are becoming more affordable, while our residential and industrial customers continue to demand more low-emission and carbon-free energy. This puts tremendous pressure on our coal plants. Economic analysis shows significant benefits to customers by transitioning to lower-cost renewable alternatives. It’s important to note, however, that the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan continues to include electricity supplied from our coal plants for several years.
Changes are difficult, and my commitment to each of our employees is simple. Any employee who wants continued employment with Rocky Mountain Power/PacifiCorp will be afforded that opportunity. For some, it may mean learning new skills. For others, it might mean relocating to where new opportunities are available. This week we announced to employees a significant expansion of our employee education assistance program, which will now provide full tuition reimbursement for any course of study. We also announced that we will extend preferential internal hiring for employees affected by the coal transition.
Rocky Mountain Power continues to invest in Wyoming. New wind and transmission projects currently underway amount to more than $2.6 billion across the state with more potentially in the near future. Wyoming is well positioned to be the center of the new energy economy. Meanwhile, our employees and retirees continue to play a vital part in the communities where they work and live.
Wyoming enjoys some of the most reliable and affordable power anywhere — fifth-lowest in the country according the U.S. Energy Information Administration — making the state a very attractive destination for companies looking for a competitive advantage. Our future plans will continue to provide Wyoming that competitive edge. I’m convinced that we have the right plan and strategy in place to achieve the best outcomes for our customers in Wyoming.
President and CEO, Rocky Mountain Power