Distributed Energy Resources

Wind power project plans advance in Iowa, Wyoming

Utility regulators in Wyoming and Iowa recently issued decisions tied to wind power expansion plans by utilities in those states.

The Wyoming Public Service Commission on April 12 gave the green light for PacifiCorp to move ahead with a significant wind and transmission expansion plan.

The Wyoming PSC approved a settlement agreement between PacifiCorp, the Wyoming Industrial Energy Consumers, the Wyoming Office of Consumer Advocate and the Interwest Energy Alliance on the new wind and transmission portions of PacifiCorp’s Energy Vision 2020 proposal. The commission also approved the certificates of public convenience and necessity that are needed for construction of the Wyoming-based projects.

As part of the settlement agreement, a previously announced 161-megawatt wind project in Uinta County, Wyo., will no longer be included in the initiative. PacifiCorp also agreed to additional customer protections in the event of cost overruns as part of the agreement.

Included in the approved settlement are three new Wyoming wind projects that will provide a total 1,150 MW of new wind, which represents about a 60 percent expansion of PacifiCorp’s current owned and contracted wind fleet, as well as a 140-mile high-voltage transmission line in Wyoming that will help more wind energy connect to PacifiCorp’s transmission system.

In addition to the new wind projects and transmission line, the company’s Energy Vision 2020 initiative would upgrade, or “repower,” the company’s existing wind fleet in Wyoming, Washington and Oregon with longer blades and newer technology to boost output and extend the life of the projects.

The repowering plan is being considered separately by the Wyoming commission and is still pending. Components of the plan also are still waiting state regulatory approval in Utah, Oregon and Idaho.

Pending approval from state commissions, acquisition of rights of way, and receipt of permits, construction on the wind and transmission projects is expected to start in 2019.

The Energy Vision 2020 projects were identified in the company’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan as the most cost-effective option to meet customers’ energy needs over the next 20 years. Completing the projects by 2020 will allow customers to realize the full benefit of production tax credits and provide a net savings for customers over the life of the projects, PacifiCorp said.

Iowa regulators approve Interstate Power & Light plan

Meanwhile, Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company, Interstate Power and Light, recently received approval to increase its wind expansion program from the Iowa Utilities Board.

By 2020, the company plans to add 1,000 MW of new wind energy in Iowa. Alliant noted “the company plans to have invested $1.8 billion in cost-competitive renewable energy by the end of 2020.”

According to Alliant, this spring crews will begin construction on the first of several wind farms, starting with Upland Prairie Wind Farm, located in Clay and Dickinson counties in northwest Iowa. Later this year, construction is expected to start at English Farms Wind Farm, located in Poweshiek County in central Iowa.

Alliant noted that through this expansion, combined with existing wind farms and market purchases, the company expects wind to be approximately one-third of its Iowa total capacity by the end of 2020.

Interstate Power and Light filed an application for advance ratemaking principles on August 3, 2017 and the company continues to review the written decision order from the IUB. 

Included among the IUB order’s terms is a return on common equity of 11%, with the exception of certain transmission facilities classified as intangible assets, which would earn the rate of return on equity authorized by the IUB in a future rate case.