Senate File 159 Sustains Life of the Jim Bridger Power Plant – For Now

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CHEYENNE — Last week the Wyoming Senate passed a bill that is partially designed to put pressure on Rocky Mountain Power to keep the Jim Bridger Power Plant open into the next several decades.

According to Representative Clark Stith (HD48 – Sweetwater), Senate File 159 “requires that a public utility will only be able to recover the costs of a new power plant built to replace coal fired electric generation if the utility first makes a good faith effort to sell the facility to a third party operator, who could then sell electricity in the wholesale market or back to the utility.”

When the new Gateway West transmission line is completed in 2022, wind power from the Chokecherry wind project will begin to displace the coal fired generation from the Jim Bridger power plant, said Stith. 

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The Plan

According to PacifiCorp’s December 2018 Integrated Resource Plan meeting agenda, half of the Jim Bridger power plant (“Jim Bridger 1”) would close in 2022. 

The IRP further states that PacifiCorp estimates it will save a net between $69 million and $140 million by closing half of Bridger (“Bridger 1”) by 2022.  

“With respect to the rest of Jim Bridger, Rocky Mountain Power has said different things at different times about total closure,” Stith said. “The Rocky Mountain Power CEO said 2032 in a meeting with legislators a few months ago, to an earlier closure date of 2027 implied by the charts Pacificorp submitted to the Public Service Commission.”

Walking it Back

But after blowback from Wyoming legislators, and passage of SF159, Rocky Mountain Power has officially taken the position that there is no set closure date for Jim Bridger, according to Stith.

Stith said he voted “yes” on SF 159 because there are 1,200 direct local jobs at stake that would be effected by the closure of the plant and Bridger Coal Mine.

Read the PacifiCorp IRP by clicking this link.

“The documents are a bit hard to read, but you can tell the direction that PacificCorp/Rocky Mountain Power is wanting to go:  shutting down coal fired electric generation.” Stith added. “SF159 is an attempt to slow that process down.”