CHEYENNE – Black Hills Energy executives plan to buy a Gillette-based power plant to prevent an energy shortage in the coming years. The utility submitted its 2018 Integrated Resource Plan to the Wyoming Public Service Commission this week, outlining how to best meet electric customers’ energy needs over the next three decades. The plan identifies an ideal mix of resources to meet projected customer demand at the lowest cost. In addition to prioritizing coal, natural gas, wind and solar, Black Hills identified a generation shortfall of 60 megawatts – approximately 25 percent of the current capacity and energy needs for statewide customers. This shortage comes from the expiration of a power purchase agreement in 2022 at the Wygen I power plant near Gillette. The mine mouth electric plant is owned by Black Hills Wyoming, an affiliate company. “Baseload generation resources must be available 365 days a year,” said Shirley Welte, Black Hills Energy vice president of electric and gas operations for Wyoming. “This is the energy our customers depend upon each and every day to power their lives and businesses.” Baseload is the minimum level of demand on an electrical grid over time. Now, Black Hills is hoping to acquire the plant to replace energy currently made available through the power purchase agreement. “As part of our fleet of owned generating facilities, Wygen I would continue to provide our customers with safe and reliable energy; ensure the long-term price stability afforded by a low-cost, local Wyoming energy resource; and continue to provide stable, long-term mining and plant operations jobs within Wyoming,” said Welte. In the plan, Black Hills also supports the need for an additional 30 megawatts of energy capacity delivered by solar energy resources over time. Review of the plan is subject to an open public process governed by the Public Service Commission. Any future purchase of Wygen I would require approval of a certificate of public convenience. For more news from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, visithttps://www.wyomingnews.com/.