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A top US diplomat testifies that millions in military aid was held up over Trump demand for "Biden probe." Also on our rundown, a hearing today targets Big Oil and "climate denial."

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Facebook says it blocked four networks of social media accounts to prevent election interference; and Julin Castro announces he might not have enough cash on hand to keep the campaign going.

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PacifiCorp Plans Coal Units' Retirement, Investments in WY Renewables

PacifiCorp's plan to generate 354 megawatts in Wyoming from the sun would double the state's current solar output. (U.S. Department of Interior)
PacifiCorp's plan to generate 354 megawatts in Wyoming from the sun would double the state's current solar output. (U.S. Department of Interior)
October 7, 2019

KEMMERER, Wyo. — PacifiCorp's plan to retire coal-fired power plants is not as sweeping as first announced, but units at Naughton, Dave Johnston and Jim Bridger – the largest plant in the company's fleet – all will close earlier than once anticipated.

PacifiCorp's decision was based on its obligation to provide customers electricity at the lowest cost possible. Christopher Thomas, senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club, said it's an economic issue facing utilities across the nation.

The costs of maintaining older coal units are significantly higher than switching to solar, wind and battery storage.

"We're seeing utilities take a second look a look at their coal plants, and say, 'You know what? We can save our customers money by bringing some coal units offline sooner, and replacing them with renewable technologies,’” Thomas said.

The 20-year energy plan is expected to be officially filed with the Wyoming Public Service Commission on Oct. 18. The commission will then decide whether or not to acknowledge the proposal.

Lawmakers have already required the company to put coal units up for sale before they're taken offline, in hopes of keeping them running, and keeping workers' paychecks coming.

PacifiCorp has said it will do its best to retrain workers and help communities weather the adjustments. The company has invested $3 billion to tap Wyoming's significant wind resources, projects it says will bring hundreds of construction jobs and millions in tax revenues.

Thomas said the changes in the economics of power generation are putting lawmakers in a tight spot.

"We hope that Wyoming leaders will really focus on helping those communities transition and diversify their economies,” he said.

PacifiCorp has said it's on track to add 1,150 megawatts of new wind power by the end of 2020, and plans to build a new 140-mile Gateway West transmission segment in Wyoming for additional electricity.

The company's plan to generate 354 megawatts in Wyoming from the sun would double the state's current solar output.

Disclosure: Sierra Club, Wyoming Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY