PacifiCorp’s coal assets could stick customers with paying millions more on energy



Contact: Marta Stoepker, Sierra Club, 313.977.0054,

SALT LAKE CITY-- An independent analysis of PacifiCorp’s coal-burning power plants, released today, describes how the utility’s massive portfolio of coal-fired generation poses a significant financial risk to its customers. Conducted by an independent energy consulting firm, Energy Strategies, the report shows that wind and solar power, along with options for purchasing energy on the open market, are in many cases cheaper than or competitive with coal generation. The analysis was commissioned by the Sierra Club.





For years, PacifiCorp has refused requests to conduct and disclose a comprehensive financial analysis of its 24 aging coal units. In the face of rising coal costs and economically competitive alternatives, PacifiCorp’s customers are increasingly more interested in what their utility’s reliance on coal means for energy prices. In response to these concerns, Oregon’s Public Utility Commission charged PacifiCorp to conduct an economic study, which is expected to be released tomorrow. However, PacifiCorp has no plans to share its findings with the public, making Energy Strategies PacifiCorp Coal Unit Valuation Study the only available data for the utility’s over 1.8 million customers.


This analysis is more important than ever given that Oregon will stop paying for coal power in a little over a decade, leaving PacifiCorp's other customers, mostly in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, paying a larger share of the costs for keeping these coal plants running. Industrial and commercial customers in these states should be particularly concerned as they make up the bulk of PacifiCorp’s customer base.


Using publicly available data, Energy Strategies applied the most conservative costs for alternative sources and found the following:

  • For market purchase replacement options:

    • 11 coal units run at a higher cost than market energy over their anticipated lives.

    • $680 million is PacifiCorps potential savings from displacing coal with market-based energy.

  • For solar purchase replacement options:

    • 12 coal units run at a higher cost than solar energy over their anticipated lives.

    • $700 million is PacifiCorps potential savings from displacing coal with solar energy.

  • For wind purchase replacement options:

    • 20 coal units run at a higher cost than wind energy over their anticipated lives.

    • $2.8 billion is PacifiCorps potential savings from displacing coal with wind energy.


Cesia Kearns, Western Deputy Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, issued the following statement:


“This report clarifies what so many of us already know. The rise of clean energy is making PacifiCorp’s coal plants increasingly uneconomic. This massive utility has no real plans to protect its customers from rising coal costs. Instead, its addiction to coal will continue to damage our air and water quality and distort the views of our most precious national parks with pollution. And for what? There are better options on the table. This report makes that clear. It’s time that PacifiCorp take those options seriously.”


Shannon Anderson, Powder River Basin Resource Council, issued the following statement:


“People in Wyoming are well aware of the role coal has played in our past, but we also know that it doesn’t have the most promising future. Energy Strategies’ numbers are telling and should get PacifiCorp and our decision makers to think through how to relieve families, businesses and schools from the rising cost of coal. It’s time to get serious about tapping into the truly endless energy source in the wind and support coal communities that have powered millions of homes for decades.”


Sarah Wright, Executive Director of Utah Clean Energy, issued the following statement:


“Energy Strategies’ analysis shows that renewables can provide cheaper power to Utahns than many of Rocky Mountain Power’s existing coal plants. Additionally, energy efficiency is our cheapest, cleanest energy resource, yet Rocky Mountain Power is planning drastic reductions in programs that save Utah families and businesses energy and money. This report couldn’t have landed at a better time.  Rocky Mountain Power is launching its next 20-year planning process, and it is clear we need to maximize renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, and plan for earlier retirement of our oldest, uneconomic coal plants.”



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