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Docket Number: UE-120767, UG-120768
Commission wants re-do of PSE’s coal plant analysis
Suggests PSE take another look at reliance on older Colstrip plants
OLYMPIA, Wash. – After months of review, state regulators today acknowledged Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) updated 20-year plan to obtain electricity, but said it was unable to conclude that the utility’s continued reliance on older coal-fired power plants in Colstrip, Montana, is justified.
The state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) said PSE’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan fails to answer questions about the future financial viability of the older Colstrip power plants in coming years.
The Colstrip power plants comprise four units. PSE owns 50 percent of the two older units, built in 1975-1976, and 25 percent of the others. PSE obtains about 30 percent of its electric power from the Colstrip plants.
Noting that PSE likely will face major investment decisions for the Colstrip plants in a few years, the UTC said it needs additional information before determining “the prudency of any new investment in Colstrip…or, in the alternative, a closure or partial-closure plan.”
In analyzing PSE’s justification for reliance on Colstrip power, the UTC said the utility must better explore potential cost impacts, including the likelihood of higher carbon costs and tougher federal environmental regulations, as well as projected natural gas prices and demand for electricity.
Based on information in PSE’s plan, “we simply could not determine whether Colstrip power generation should or should not be part of PSE’s portfolio. We invite the company to continue its analysis, perhaps in the context of a more formal proceeding, in order to better answer the cost-effectiveness questions.” commission Chairman David Danner said.
PSE’s latest plan, which by law requires updating every two years, provides a snapshot in time to inform the state Utilities and Transportation Commission as it oversees and regulates the utility. PSE provides power to 1.1 million customers, as well as natural gas to 760,000 customers, largely in the Puget Sound region.
The UTC regulates the rates and services of telecommunications companies, investor-owned electric utilities, natural gas and water companies, garbage-collection haulers, household goods movers and charter-bus companies, commercial ferries, pipeline companies, and a low-level radioactive waste repository.