In Rocky Mountain Power’s current rate increase request of 17.3 percent for Wyoming customers, utility officials say the rising cost of coal is a bigger factor.“One of the single biggest factors in our Wyoming pricing request is related to coal,” said Jeff Hymas, spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power, Wyoming’s largest regulated utility. “We have expiring contracts for coal used at our power plants, and expiring contracts for power we have to purchase.”
Wyoming coal producers fared well during a tumultuous year for the industry nationwide, increasing output by an estimated 2.6 percent in 2010. It’s a modest recovery in production, after slipping 7.8 percent in 2009. Wyoming’s year-to-date coal production as of December 25 was 434 million tons, and the industry was on track to finish the year at 442.5 million tons, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.