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PacifiCorp disputes Oregon regulatory staff conclusion wind bidding was unfair

PacifiCorp filed comments opposing the Oregon regulatory staff's conclusion that the utility's bidding process for wind resources was unfair, saying that four Wyoming projects were chosen with extensive oversight of two independent evaluators.

In reply comments filed late March 29, the Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary asked the Oregon Public Utility Commission to accept the company's final project selections, which were chosen from the list submitted by wind energy developers in response to the utility's 2017 request for proposals. Projects from NextEra Energy Inc. subsidiary NextEra Energy Resources LLC and Invenergy LLC were put on a final shortlist of bids that PacifiCorp selected for contract negotiations.

"I think we're a bit baffled that staff can lean on [the] independent auditor's report recommending acknowledgment of the shortlist and saying the process worked, but reach an entirely different conclusion," The Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary's spokesman Ry Schwark said. "The independent auditor, after all, reports to the commission and is under their direction."

The Oregon commission staff pointed to the evaluator's conclusions that a lot of the analysis that PacifiCorp presented to wind developers concerning transmission constraint and interconnection queue issues and production tax credit benefits was of questionable value. The staff selectively relied on excerpts from the independent evaluator's report, the utility argued, saying that the overall analysis and conclusion of both evaluators undermined the staff's conclusions.

"The Independent Evaluator's independent analysis confirmed that the selected bids in the final shortlisted portfolio were reasonably priced and, while not the lowest-cost offers, were the lowest-cost offers that were viable under current transmission planning assumptions," PacifiCorp said.

"The ... RFP was a fair, unbiased, and transparent process that included rigorous analysis of net benefits to customers and extensive oversight by two independent evaluators throughout the entire process," PacifiCorp added.

The Oregon commission appointed one independent evaluator, paid for by PacifiCorp, while the Utah Public Service Commission retained a second evaluator. The Utah commission has set a three-day hearing to start May 29 to consider approval of the resources resulting from the RFP.

The proposed wind projects would be in Wyoming, but PacifiCorp's interconnected system serves parts of six states, and state laws in Utah and Oregon require that RFPs for procurement of large resources must obtain regulatory approvals in those states. In its Wyoming approval application, PacificCorp detailed proposals totaling 1,311 MW of new wind capacity.

"Together, this least-cost, least-risk portfolio of bids will provide 1,311 MW of zero-fuel-cost, emission-free generation to serve PacifiCorp's customers consistent with the 2017 Integrated Resource Plan," PacifiCorp said in its Oregon reply comments.