February 4, 2019 Read More →

Solar project proposed next to aging Naughton coal plant in Wyoming

StarTribune:

A utility-scale solar farm has been proposed in Wyoming, just next door to the coal-fired power plant that shuttered one of its three coal-burning units Wednesday.

Fossil Solar LLC has proposed a 63-megawatt facility outside the town of Kemmerer, with plans to connect that power to the network of transmission serving PacifiCorp’s 56-year-old coal plant, Naughton. The solar farm would have a net production capacity of 58 megawatts, depending on sunshine.

Fossil Solar registered in the state of Wyoming in late January. It is a subsidiary of Strata Solar, a North Carolina-based firm that facilitates development of solar energy projects. Strata officials did not respond to questions by press time.

Due to its size, Fossil Solar’s proposed farm would qualify for a federal guarantee obligating Rocky Mountain Power to buy Fossil’s energy via a 20-year contract. The price Rocky Mountain Power would agree to pay Fossil Solar for its solar power would not be public, but it would be verified by Wyoming regulators and by law must be equal or less than the cost the utility would incur by generating that energy from its own resources.

Changing economics for coal, wind and solar power in the U.S. threaten traditional plants like Naughton but also coal mines, like the Kemmerer coal mine that sells its coal to Naughton. Kemmerer’s owner, Westmoreland, which operates coal mines across the West and into Canada, filed for bankruptcy in October, faulting the weakening market for thermal coal. The sale of the coal mine, which employs about 300 workers in the rural area, to unnamed buyers is proposed for February.

A developer began construction on the first utility-scale solar farm in Wyoming last year, the 80-megawatt Sweetwater Solar project near Green River. A second developer, Sage Solar, has obtained a power purchase agreement with Rocky Mountain Power for a 56-megawatt farm with operations slated to begin later this year. By comparison, installed wind capacity in Wyoming is a little more than 1,400 megawatts with another 3,000 megawatts under construction.

More: Solar farm proposed as coal unit blinks out in Kemmerer

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