Utilities using out-of-state coal-fired power plants to generate electricity for Idahoans have said that the power is relatively cheap. But, the Snake River Alliance has looked closely at one of those distant coal plants, the North Valmy Generating Station in northern Nevada, and found that it is not a bargain after all, according to filings with utility regulators.To its credit, Idaho’s largest electric utility is already reconsidering the fate of the Valmy coal plant, co-owned by Idaho Power and its 50-50 partner, NV Energy. Like most coal-burning utilities around the nation, Idaho Power is considering retiring coal plants like Valmy ahead of the end of their useful lives. Many coal plants are being shoved to retirement due to increasing health and environmental regulations governing emissions such as greenhouse gases, low natural gas prices that make gas-fired power generation cheaper than coal, and the precipitous decline in the cost of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
Idaho Power’s current long-term resource plan envisions a “glide path” toward reduced coal consumption as demanded by most power company customers who insist on reasonably priced but also cleaner electricity. Not only does electricity from the Valmy coal plant cost more than other resources, including other coal plants, the plant is also one of Idaho Power’s lowest-producing power generators. All of these factors make Valmy a prime candidate for retirement.
For more details on the Valmy coal plant situation, please visit the Alliance’s website here.