Idaho Power set for early retirement of coal plant

Statesman Staff

As part of a settlement deal released Wednesday, Idaho Power announced its intention to close the two units at Nevada’s North Valmy Generating Station -- a coal plant -- several years ahead of schedule.

Idaho Power plans to close Unit 1 in 2019 and Unit 2 in 2025, according to a news release from the Idaho Chapter Sierra Club. Idaho Power’s current schedule depreciates Units 1 and 2 in 2031 and 2035, respectively.

Valmy is the last remaining utility-owned coal plant in Nevada after the Reid Gardner plant officially shuttered in March. Idaho Power and NV Energy jointly own the Valmy power plant, which now operates primarily to meet peak energy demand in the summer but remains idle through much of the year.

Analysis found that operating the coal plant until its scheduled retirement in 2025 would cost utility customers an additional $30 million compared to market prices.

The settlement requires Idaho Power to work with NV Energy to reach an agreement to stop burning coal at Valmy.

Without an agreement, Idaho Power must issue filings in 2020 and 2026 to justify its inability to meet the timeline.

NV Energy’s long-term commitment to the plant is also in question. At the end of 2016, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission ordered NV Energy to complete, by the end of this year, a new economic analysis of the Valmy coal plant after Sierra Club’s testimony revealed that it’s wasting customers’ money each day it remains open.