Black Hills Corp. is aiming to achieve a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 based on 2005 levels as it aims to exceed Colorado’s requirements.

Subsidiary Black Hills Energy submitted its 2030 Ready Plan to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) at the end of May. The plan details how the company could surpass Colorado’s requirement for utilities to reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2030. 

The official plan “builds on a clean energy journey that began over a decade ago, when we began transitioning our fleet to lower emissions natural gas generation and emissions-free renewable generation, while maintaining system safety and reliability,” said Black Hills CEO Linn Evans

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Moving forward, the Rapid City, SD-based utility noted in its proposal that because a considerable share of generation comes from low-emitting sources, Black Hills Energy is not expecting to retire large portions of its generation resources. 

“Our ability to serve our customers with more renewable energy is possible in large part due to the flexibility provided by our Pueblo Airport Generating Station,” said Evans. The 220 MW natural gas-fired Pueblo Airport Generating Station (PAGS) “provides critical operational flexibility and the firm, dispatchable, quick-start resources essential for integrating higher levels of variable renewable resources.”

Black Hills also has a long-term power purchase agreement for capacity from a 200 MW combined-cycle unit at PAGS.

However, the company is expecting to retire its two diesel generating facilities early, both of which have been in operation since the early 1960s. Black Hills may propose to retire its 8 MW Pueblo Diesel and 10 MW Airport Diesel units in 2025, as opposed to 2029 and 2033, respectively. The early retirement of the utility’s diesel capacity is included in the preferred planning scenario. 

“As proposed, our plan will achieve a 90% reduction in emissions and result in 79% of our Colorado customers’ electricity being generated by carbon-free sources by 2030,” said Evans. “We’ll get there by adding 450 MW of new renewable energy and battery storage to our Southern Colorado system.”

The preferred plan involves the addition of 149 MW of wind and 258 MW of solar generation, as well as the addition of 50 MW of battery storage to its Colorado electric system. A solicitation process in 2023 could determine the final composition of resources, though the company expects to bring additional resources online between 2025 and 2030. 

The Colorado PUC plans to review the modeling and planning scenarios, with a decision expected by 2023. Following the reviewing process, the company expects to begin requests for proposals for renewable resources.