Coal-fired generation has been a primary source of commercial power production in the United States for many decades. Pulverized coal plants provide a significant portion of electricity used in Idaho, but these plants are located in neighboring states. Idaho Power Company partially owns 1,118 MW of coal-fired generation capacity in Wyoming, Nevada, and Oregon. Avista Corporation owns 222 MW of coal-fired capacity located in Eastern Montana, and PacifiCorp owns 6,728MW of coal-fired capacity. All of these plants use coal pulverized to a dust-like consistency that is burned to heat water producing steam to drive the turbine and generator.
While coal power plants require significant capital expenditures, they take advantage of low-cost coal fuel and provide reliable baseload electricity. Air quality and other environmental concerns have recently driven regulations that are aimed at reducing emissions and particulates. Coal-fired plants emit more carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced than natural gas-fired plants.
Avista serves more than 127,000 electric customers in northern Idaho, Washington and Oregon, and is the second largest electricity provider in Idaho. Avista has partial ownership of the Colstrip plant, located in eastern Montana, which consists of four coal-fired steam plants connected to a double-circuit 500 kV BPA transmission line under a long-term wheeling agreement. Talen Energy Corporation operates the facilities on behalf of the six owners. Avista has no ownership interest in Units 1 or 2, but owns 15 percent of Units 3 and 4. Unit 3 began operating in 1984 and Unit 4 was finished in 1986. The Avista share of Colstrip has a maximum net capacity of 222.0 MW, and a nameplate rating of 247.0 MW.
Idaho Power Company serves over 523,000 customers across a 24,000 square mile service area in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho Power Company is the largest provider of electricity in the state. Idaho Power shares ownership of three coal-fired power plants, all located outside of Idaho. Idaho Power owns 33% (704 MW) of the Jim Bridger Plant in Wyoming, 50% (260 MW) of the North Valmy Plant in Nevada, and 10% (57.5 MW) of the Boardman Plant in Oregon.
Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, serves over 77,000 retail customers in eastern Idaho. PacifiCorp has ownership in 10 coal-fired facilities, providing over 60% (5,900 MW) of PacifiCorp’s energy mix. These plants are located in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.