Platte River Power Authority To Retire Coal-Fired Unit 16 Years Ahead of Schedule

June 17, 2020

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted June 17, 2020

The Platte River Power Authority on June 16 said that its coal-fired Rawhide Unit 1 generating resource will cease producing electricity by 2030, 16 years before its planned retirement date.

Platte River’s board approved a resource diversification policy in December 2018, which calls for a 100% noncarbon energy mix by 2030, and planners immediately began studying future energy mix options without the use of the 280 MW coal-fired unit as part of its integrated resource planning process.

While the IRP is currently on hold until public meetings and stakeholder engagement resumes, Platte River’s leadership needed to announce Unit 1’s retirement to support state regulatory timelines that align with the broader objectives for a noncarbon future, Platte River said.

Platte River is a not-for-profit wholesale electricity generation and transmission provider that delivers energy and services to its owner communities of Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colorado for delivery to their utility customers.

The last IRP that Platte River completed in 2016 did not call for additional generating capacity. Platte River nevertheless added 30 MW of new solar energy, studied the feasibility of a zero-net carbon energy mix, signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for an additional 150 MW of wind power and later increased the amount to 225 MW, and will soon add 22 MW of additional solar power with 2 MWh of battery capacity.

It is currently negotiating another PPA for up to 150 MW of new solar generation.

Platte River noted that Rawhide Unit 1 has earned national recognition for its reliability, capacity and environmental performance. Throughout its life, Unit 1 has operated with an equivalent availability factor of 97.28%, running thousands of hours between planned or unplanned outages, delivering energy up to its nameplate capacity. When built, the unit featured state-of-the art emissions controls that most plants were not required to have and more were added before regulatory mandates.

From the beginning, Unit 1 provided more than half of the energy needs for Platte River’s owner communities, supplemented by federal hydropower contracts, natural gas resources, market purchases, wind and solar resources.

By the end of 2020, more than 50% of the energy delivered by Platte River will come from noncarbon resources including wind, solar and hydro facilities, and Platte River continues to take steps needed to achieve its 100% noncarbon goal.

In addition to Unit 1, the 4,560-acre Rawhide Energy Station also hosts five natural gas combustion turbines and a 30 MW solar farm, along with another 22 MW of solar power (with battery storage) currently under construction.

Energy from the 225 MW Roundhouse wind farm located in southern Wyoming will be delivered to the Rawhide Energy Station and then to Platte River’s owner communities.

Platte River’s ownership interest in the Craig station will also conclude when Unit 1 is retired in 2025 and Unit 2 follows, thereby ending the use of all coal-fired generating capacity by 2030.

The Rawhide Energy Station has multiple generation resources, and workers will be needed for those facilities, Platte River noted.

Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of Platte River, said that plans will be developed to smoothly transition workers to new roles after closure.

Following its retirement, Unit 1 will undergo a lengthy decommissioning process.

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