Largest utility in the western U.S. to analyze the true cost of its coal plants

PacifiCorp to release report on the cost of its coal plants by June 2018


Marta Stoepker, Sierra Club, 313.977.0054,, @mstoeps

PORTLAND-- PacifiCorp, the largest utility in the western United States, will evaluate the true cost of its coal investments at the behest of the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (OPUC). The request for a coal analysis comes after Pacific Power’s customers, a PacifiCorp company, demanded to know if the cost of its coal fleet is in their best interest. When finished in June 2018, the report will include an evaluation of all of PacifiCorp’s coal assets, which serves customers in parts of Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and California. PacifiCorp is not a service provider but has investments in coal plants located in Colorado, Montana and Arizona. This report is a directive from the OPUC’s review of the utility’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). PacifiCorp filed IRP’s in all service territory states.


As PacifiCorp’s IRP moved through Oregon’s regulatory process, environmental advocates and supporters of energy fairness and equity demanded a coal analysis be conducted. Groups frequently referenced 2015 and 2017 reports issued by Synapse, an energy analytics firm, which found 40% of PacifiCorp’s coal fleet uneconomical. Coal units with losses are:

  • Cholla Power Plant (unit 4), Arizona

  • Craig Station (units 1&2), Colorado

  • Hayden Generating Station (units 1&2), Colorado

  • Jim Bridger Power Plant (unit 3&4), Wyoming

  • Naughton Plant (units 1&2), Wyoming

The report estimates that these units have liabilities above $60 per kilowatt. Synapse estimates that maintaining these units past 2018 could incur losses of nearly $600 million for customers throughout its service territory.


PacifiCorp’s final analysis could shape how energy resources are used throughout the western U.S. and could open the door for new clean energy to replace the company’s carbon-intensive power plants. Currently, 67% of PacifiCorp’s energy comes from coal power. Meanwhile, customers throughout its service territory are demanding coal energy be replaced by local, clean energy investments as it is cheaper and creating more jobs in the region than coal and gas combined.


The Sierra Club expects to remain engaged on behalf of PacifiCorp’s energy customers through this and subsequent reviews of PacifiCorp's systems.


Amy Hojnowski, Senior Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

“PacifiCorp’s inability to acknowledge the actual risk of its coal assets has kept the west from meeting its true clean energy potential. This coal analysis is long overdue and will show the economic benefits to move away from coal and adopt clean energy alternatives that supports jobs, clean air and equity throughout the region.”


Stan Holmes, volunteer with the Sierra Club in Utah and co-founder of Utah Citizens Advocating Renewable Energy (UCARE), issued the following statement:


“The coal market is in decline.  The longer PacifiCorp holds on to increasingly expensive coal plants, the greater the economic and environmental costs to my family as customers.  This report will force PacifiCorp to reveal the truth about its coal plants.  Once that happens, our Utah utility --Rocky Mountain Power-- will have to acknowledge all benefits of the largely untapped clean energy potential that spans our sunny state.”


Connie Wilbert, Sierra Club’s Wyoming Chapter Director, issued the following statement:

“For decades, Wyoming coal and coal workers have played a huge and important role in supplying energy to states across the county. If PacifiCorp’s analysis reveals that, yes, our coal plants are costing families, then we as a state need to work with this utility on how we can continue to be an energy exporter, support workers and create new opportunities in Wyoming.”


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit