September 7, 2018 Read More →

PacifiCorp looks to keep coal plant data permanently private

Associated Press:

An electric utility is asking a Washington state judge to permanently block the public release of some economic information it provided to state regulators about its coal-burning units.

The Sierra Club says the public should have clear information about the financial risks of operating coal-burning power plants. It filed a public records request seeking information that PacifiCorp blacked out in a coal analysis the company provided to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission this summer.

In July, PacifiCorp won a temporary restraining order to prevent state regulators from releasing that information publicly. A Thurston County Superior Court judge is scheduled Friday to hear whether to make that injunction permanent.

The utility, based in Portland, Oregon, completed a unit-specific analysis on the costs of retiring its coal-burning units — at the request of Oregon state regulators — but redacted some information it said was confidential and “commercially sensitive.”

“This is a partial analysis that doesn’t provide a complete picture of whether or not a coal unit should be retired early,” said Bob Gravely, a PacifiCorp spokesman. He said releasing the information could do real harm because it can be misconstrued and distort the market. The utility provided the redacted information to those who signed non-disclosure agreements, he added.

The Sierra Club says that there’s a strong public interest in the information, that it is not a trade secret and that the utility hasn’t met its burden to prove that disclosing it would result in harm to the company.

More: Utility asks judge to block release of coal plant facts

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