Regional Integrated Resource Plan (RIRP) for the Railbelt
The goal of the Regional Integrated Resource Plan for the Railbelt (RIRP) is to minimize future power supply costs and maintain or improve current levels of power supply reliability through the development of a single, comprehensive resource integration plan. The plan will identify and schedule a combination of generation and transmission (G&T) capital projects over a 50-year time horizon.
The plan is intended to provide:
- An assessment of loads and demands for the Railbelt Electrical Grid for a time horizon of 50 years, including new potential industrial demands;
- Projections for Railbelt electrical capacity and energy growth, fuel prices, and resource options;
- An analysis of the range of potential generation resources available, including costs, time for construction, and long-term operating costs;
- A schedule for existing generation project retirement, new generation construction, and construction of backbone-redundant transmission lines that will allow the future Railbelt Electrical Grid to operate reliably under open access tariffs, with a postage stamp rate for electricity and demand for the entire Railbelt as a whole;
- A long-term schedule for developing new fuel supplies that will provide for reliable, stably-priced electrical energy for a 50-year planning horizon;
- A diverse portfolio of power supply that includes in appropriate portions renewable and alternative energy projects and fossil fuel projects, some of which could be provided by independent power producers;
- A comprehensive list of current and future generation, transmission, and electric power infrastructure projects, each one including a project description, narrative, location, fuel source, estimated annual fuel consumption, power output capacity, and energy output, both annually and monthly.
For reasonable generation fuel supply configurations, the RIRP will develop and recommend up to three feasible resource plan scenarios, complete with assessment of costs and benefits, and collective and individual impacts on utility tariffs.
Healy Clean Coal Project
The RIRP will include consideration of the following energy sources:
- Healy Clean Coal Project
- Susitna Hydroelectric Project (including phased development)
- Chakachamna Hydroelectric Project
- Fire Island Wind Power Project
- Eva Creek Wind Project
- Fairbanks Fischer-Tropsch Project (energy source and fuel source)
- Chuitna Coal Project (energy source and fuel source)
- Nenana Basin natural gas
- New gas reserves and exploration in Cook Inlet
- North Slope natural gas Bullet Line
- LNG trucked from the North Slope to Fairbanks
In order to integrate Susitna development with Railbelt Electrical Grid capacity and energy needs the RIRP will consider a number of options for bringing generation sources online, including the phased development of the Susitna Hydro Electric Project. The RIRP will also consider input from the Wind Integration Study currently being conducted by AEA, and it will include an analysis of the role of demand side management rules and the ability to reduce generation resource and energy requirements if such programs are implemented.
The RIRP will also consider potential contributions of a merchant power market, where energy needs could be partially met by tenders from the Railbelt G&T entity for a portion of the power supply needs. The RIRP process will analyze a range from 0% to 25% of power needs being supplied by merchant power suppliers (Independent Power Producers).
The RIRP will also consider a scenario where in 10 years all Railbelt G&T assets will be owned, controlled, maintained, and operated by a single business entity.
Transmission planning for the RIRP will begin with the most recent Chugach and GVEA transmission plans integrated into an overall interconnected grid development. It will be assumed that transmission projects will be accomplished cooperatively with the serving distribution utility whose service area the transmission line must traverse.
The RIRP will consider future industrial loads compared to a baseline load growth (demand and energy requirements) scenario, that assumes Railbelt development without new, heavy industrial high power demand. An evaluation of potential future industrial projects for the Railbelt and of incremental costs identified for increasing G&T capabilities to supply industrial loads will be completed. This will include the Donlin Creek mining projects and the Pebble Mining project as possible grid interconnected loads, as well as a third, undefined but similarly sized industrial project.