As it proceeds toward a clean-energy future, Idaho Power plans to exit a nearly 50-year-old Wyoming coal plant sooner rather than later, in part by converting parts of the coal plant to natural gas.
On June 1, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved the next steps in a planned exit from the Jim Bridger Power Plant, near Rock Springs, Wyoming. Idaho Power is a part-owner of the plant, which opened in 1974 and which is assumed to reach the end of its useful life in 2034, according to the company.
But Idaho Power hopes to exit its share early, as a 2021 analysis by the company indicated that leaving coal behind sooner would be more economical.
The company plans to cease coal operations at the plant by the end of 2028, and to convert two of the plant’s four boilers to natural gas. Another utility, PacifiCorp, owns two-thirds of the plant and plans to continue burning coal for longer.
Studies show that carbon emissions are rapidly heating the planet, causing hotter heat waves and the loss of sea and glacial ice, and shifting plant and animal ranges. Without major reductions in global emissions, scientists expect to see intensifying extreme weather events, wildfires and floods.
[Ian Max Stevenson]