A project that more than doubled PacifiCorp’s wind energy production is complete, meaning that from a peak workforce of 1,399 employees in August 2020, a few dozen people are now regularly working for the company in Carbon County.
“The construction workforce peaked at 1,399 in August 2020. From August 2019 through the week of November 2020, active construction jobs averaged 879 per week,” PacifiCorp spokeswoman Laine Anderson told the Rawlins Times in an email.
When asked how many employees will remain in the region for maintenance and operations on projects and infrastructure in Carbon County, Anderson said that operationally, Foote Creek I has two to three technicians, Ekola has eight to 10 technicians and TB Flats I & II has 12 to 15 technicians that maintain the site for PacifiCorp.
PacifiCorp reports it also has three supervisors who manage its nine wind projects in the Carbon County area.
In late August, the company announced that several Wyoming wind resource projects that included upgrading the existing wind turbine fleet and building a key segment of the company’s Energy Gateway transmission projects were complete.
“This achievement is cause for celebrating the hard work of dedicated employees and our contractors, who worked cooperatively with state utility regulators, local county and city officials and community residents to get this job done,” said Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, PacifiCorp’s retail service division in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. “Everyone involved, inside and outside the company, in working to complete these projects deserves congratulations.”
The goal was lower customer costs, reduced emissions and a modernized, more reliable grid that serves PacifiCorp’s Rocky Mountain Power and Pacific Power divisions, according to the company.
“PacifiCorp is following this initiative with an even larger deployment of new renewable resources, storage and transmission by 2024,” PacifiCorp said in a press release.
The company announced its $3.1 billion Energy Vision 2020 initiative in 2017, and on Sept. 1 filed its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan with six state utility commissions. The plan details planned investment in clean energy resources, including advanced nuclear, battery and pumped hydro storage, demand response and energy efficiency programs.
For Wyoming, PacifiCorp announced new transmission, advanced nuclear, renewable energy and storage resources, and the conversion of two units at the Jim Bridger facility by 2024 to maintain reliable supply during peak periods while at the same time reducing emissions.
Previous plans had called for the closure of the two coal units in 2023 and 2028. The updated plan also includes an advanced nuclear facility in Wyoming and builds on the Energy Vision 2020 wind power and transmission projects.
“While we are still reviewing the document, it seems to fly in the face of the expectations of many in Wyoming,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in response to the release of Rocky Mountain Power’s Integrated Resource Plan late last week.
“I continue to support an all-the-above energy strategy, and Rocky Mountain Power is clearly limiting their options by focusing on intermittent sources of generation such as wind and solar, and banking on technologies not yet fully proven, such as batteries and nuclear,” Gordon’s statement read. “There are multiple sources of fossil energy that are proven with similar opportunities for technological advancement that can make for a stronger, more reliable grid.”
The changes will affect employees as well, and PacifiCorp representatives say that they are keeping that in mind.
“Recognizing that some operations will be discontinued in the future, the company is working with employees in affected operations to help them identify a path forward, either through continued employment where possible, additional job training, or support as employees transition from their employment with PacifiCorp,” Anderson said.
In 2020, PacifiCorp expanded its existing educational assistance program for transitional employees to give them broader access to the educational resources already established in Wyoming. The program has been available to all employees for years, he said, and provides employees the opportunity to further their education through a formal application and tuition reimbursement program.
“It permits our employees access to a wider range of training and educational options,” Anderson said. “PacifiCorp values and supports educational development for its employees.”