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Variety of nearby wind resources could qualify for PacifiCorp RFP

Approximately 17,046 MW of wind capacity is expected to be eligible to bid on PacifiCorp's recent request for proposals, or RFP, for wind energy resources, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis.

The company announced in September that it is looking for cost-competitive bids for 1,270 MW of wind capacity capable of delivering power to PacifiCorp's transmission system in its "west and east balancing areas" as part of the company's wind and transmission expansion plan. PacifiCorp is split into two operating divisions. Rocky Mountain Power serves customers in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, and Pacific Power serves customers in California, Oregon and Washington. States within the balancing areas include the six in which the company has customers, plus Arizona.

PacifiCorp structured its RFP into two parts: one for Wyoming specifically and one for non-Wyoming resources that could connect to its two balancing areas. Criteria include a minimum project size of 10 MW and that the project must be in commercial operation by the end of 2020. "We have a golden opportunity to cost-effectively expand the amount of renewable energy serving customers." Pacific Power President and CEO Stefan Bird said in a statement.

The Utah Public Service Commission gave its approval for the RFP on Sept. 22, but the order included the recommendation that the RFP be modified to include solar resources. However, this was not mandatory for approving the RFP. PacifiCorp has plans to publish a second solar RFP in four to six weeks. Oregon regulators have approved it as well.

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The S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis identified projects both operating and proposed, from a variety of owners, and excluded any project with output secured under a power purchase agreement that runs beyond 2020. Within Wyoming, the review identified 8,865 MW of available wind capacity that could possibly bid into the RFP, largely concentrated at three large projects.

Anschutz Corp. is developing the 3,000-MW Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project in Carbon County, Wyo., with the first unit currently in the advanced development phase and expected to go online in December 2019.

Private developer Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy LLC is involved in large wind energy development in Platte County, Wyo., that when first announced in 2014 was combined with an energy storage project in Utah and a multistate, high-voltage transmission line, but there has been little recent activity about this project.

Another private Wyoming company, Viridis Renewable Energy Corp., has been working on a 1,870-MW wind project in Carbon County, Wyo.

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Other states outside of Wyoming with the PacifiCorp balancing areas have a combined 8,182 MW that could also partake in the bidding process, most of which is concentrated in California, Oregon and Washington.

Outside Wyoming, Oregon has the most available wind capacity, at 2,976 MW. Developers in the state with the most available wind capacity are NextEra Energy Inc., with 500 MW, and Portland General Electric Co., with 450 MW. Portland General's wind resources, however, would likely be dedicated to its own utility customers.

California is next in line at 2,462 MW. At 765 MW, Trident Winds LLC is the only company within the state with more than 400 MW of available capacity. That project is an offshore wind facility, but it has not yet secured a lease from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. In Washington state, Puget Holdings LLC will have 772 MW available, but those resources serve the company's regulated utility, Puget Sound Energy Inc.

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