Northwest Power and Conservation Council Plan Calls For Renewables, Efficiency

February 28, 2022

by Peter Maloney
February 28, 2022

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has adopted an electric power resource plan that calls for the development of at least 3,500 megawatts (MW) of renewable resources and as much as 1,000 MW of energy efficiency measures over the next six years.

The 2021 Northwest Power Plan looks out 20 years, to 2041, and includes a near term focus with a six-year action plan for 2022-2027.

While the power generation mix will likely see modest changes in the near term, over the 20-year term of the plan, the region can expect “a more substantial transformation,” the plan says. Recent years have already seen dramatic drops in the cost of wind and solar energy and about 60 percent of the region’s coal-fired plants are due to retire by 2028, the plan’s authors said, noting that the 2021 plan includes “significantly more renewable generation than all our previous power plans.”

The Council was authorized by Congress in 1980 to develop and maintain a regional power plan and fish and wildlife program for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. As one of its responsibilities, the council drafts a 20-year, least-cost power plan for the Pacific Northwest and updates at least every five years.

The 2021 plan calls for the addition of at least 3,500 MW of new renewable resources in the Northwest to provide energy and offset the emissions from the region’s existing fossil fuel-based generation.

The 2021 plan also recommends that the Bonneville Power Administration and regional utilities plan to acquire between 750 and 1,000 average MW of cost-effective energy efficiency by the end of 2027 and a minimum of 2,400 average MW by 2041.

The plan includes less efficiency than past plans because much of the inexpensive efficiency has been achieved, and “what remains is close to the price of power from the least expensive generating resources,” the authors said.

The 2021 plan also recommends that Northwest utilities examine two types of demand response residential time-of-use (TOU) rates and demand voltage regulation (DVR). “Our assessment shows that about 200 megawatts of TOU and 520 megawatts of DVR are available by 2027,” the plan said.

The 2021 plan also calls for the Bonneville Power Administration and regional utilities, along with their associations and planning organizations, to work together and with others in the Western electric grid to explore the potential costs and benefits of new market tools, such as capacity and reserves products.