Key Observations From Scenario Analysis

posted Jul 21, 2015


At its July meeting, the Council was briefed on the latest findings from the scenario analysis used in developing its 20-year regional power plan. Here's a rundown on some key observations:

Energy efficiency appears to play a critical role in meeting both energy and winter capacity needs. Under all scenarios evaluated to date, 1,300-1,430 average megawatts are developed by 2021. It costs less than other resources, even under low electricity and gas prices. The fact that it can be "built" relatively quickly, and in the amounts needed, without fuel price and carbon risks, also make it the option chosen most often by the model.

"Efficiency acquisition isn't driven by the need for new energy," said Tom Eckman, power division director, "but because it's less expensive than operating existing resources and the surplus energy can be sold and exported outside the region at a profit."

For meeting short-term peaking capacity requirements, demand response was preferred over single-cycle combustion turbines, for reasons similar to efficiency: It's the cheapest way to maintain capacity reserves; it can be built more quickly than a SCCT and in the needed amounts; it has no fuel price risk; and it doesn't add to an already surplus energy market.

While renewable resources are developed to satisfy state renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency reduces carbon emissions at the lowest cost. And current commercially available solar and wind technologies don't provide the peaking capacity needed in the winter. 

Thermal resources, while frequently optioned, are rarely constructed before 2026, except in scenarios that assume demand response resources aren't available. Energy efficiency and demand response are developed to replace the generation from already announced retiring coal plants. They meet most of the region's near-term energy and capacity needs. Eckman cautioned that these findings are limited to the need for thermal resources for peaking capacity since the Council's modeling doesn't address the need for resources to balance short-term fluctuations caused by changes in loads and renewable generation.

The next power committee webinar on the 7th power plan is scheduled for August 6 at 9:30 a.m. All meetings are open to the public. 




Spokane Tribal Hatchery audit will be a template for others

posted Jul 16, 2015

Fish culturist T.J. Lebret feeds rainbow trout at the Spokane Tribal Hatchery. Photo: The Inlander,

A recent assessment of the Spokane Tribal Hatchery, which raises trout and kokanee for release into Lake Roosevelt behind Grand Coulee Dam, will serve as a template for similar audits that the Council and the Bonneville Power Administration want to conduct of other hatcheries funded through the Council’s fish and wildlife program. The goal is to better understand the scope of the operations and maintenance commitment for each facility to keep them functioning in the future.

The detailed audit of the Spokane hatchery and its equipment and operations was funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and cost about $55,000. Bonneville, which will fund future hatchery assessments, estimates they will cost less.

Tim Peone, Spokane Tribal Hatchery manager, told the Council at its July meeting, that he was pleased with the BIA’s assessment of the hatchery.

“In a nutshell, it was very clean,” he said. “BIA reviewed the integrity of the facility itself, and in depth.” He said the assessment will help the tribe prepare to negotiate a new funding agreement with Bonneville “to ensure the longevity of the facility.”

He said the tribe is investigating efficiencies including another water source, the cost of utilities, and methods to reuse some of the water used at the hatchery.

Since last October, when the Council adopted the 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program, Council staff have been working with a committee of hatchery experts, the Council’s Independent Economic Analysis Board, Bonneville staff, and the Fish Screening Oversight Committee to develop a long-term operations and maintenance strategic plan to ensure the longevity of program investments like hatcheries. That work is continuing and is part of a larger effort to find cost savings in the fish and wildlife budget to help pay for new initiatives and emerging priorities identified in the program.

Northern pike invade upper Columbia River

posted Jul 16, 2015

This map by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shows the known distribution of northern pike in the state. The northern-most red line represents the Pend Oreille River and the Columbia River to the mouth of the Kettle River. The southern-most red line represents the Spokane River. The northern and southern red circles represent Newman Lake and Liberty Lake, respectively, in Spokane County.

Northern pike, a voracious predator considered an invasive species in two of the four Northwest states, have been found in the Kettle River, a northeastern Washington tributary of the Columbia River, a sign that they are continuing their downstream migration from lakes and rivers in Idaho and Montana. What’s worse, the pike found in and near the Kettle River were several different ages, indicating the species is breeding and proliferating.

That is bad news for the Columbia because if pike keep spreading downriver they could wind up below Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams where they could prey on threatened and endangered species of salmon and steelhead.

Council staff reported in July that between June 29 and July 3, 21 adult pike were captured at five locations around the mouth of the Kettle River, near Colville, Washington. Northern pike are classified as game fish in Montana and Idaho, and as prohibited species in Washington and Oregon, where they also are listed as aquatic invasive species. All four states prohibit live transport of northern pike.

There is no limit on the number of pike that can be taken in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Oregon has no harvest regulation for pike because they have not been found there yet. Fish and wildlife managers reported to the Council in June about the increasing pike population and the dangers posed to other fish species. 

The Council is working with the state fish and wildlife agencies to develop consistent policies regarding pike. Preserving Fish and Wildlife Program effectiveness by aggressively addressing non-native and invasive species is one of the priorities in the Council’s 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program.

Amy Windrope, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the Council at its July meeting that the agency favors eradicating pike in state waters. “It’s a priority for us,” she said.

Touring Baker Dam

posted Jul 8, 2015


Council members and Council staff toured Puget Sound Energy's Baker River hydroelectric project last month to learn about its efforts to reintroduce anadromous fish over the dam.

The 215-megawatt facility is Puget's largest hydropower operation; its two dams form Lake Shannon behind the Lower Baker Dam and Baker Lake behind the Upper Baker Dam.

The facility is located in the Cascade Mountains in northwest Washington on the Baker River, a major tributary of the Skagit River and one of the state's most prolific river systems for fish.

As you can see, it was a beautiful day. 

In 2010, Puget completed construction of an advanced fish hatchery and refurbished sockeye spawning beach, which has helped to double sockeye fry production.

In the most recent revision of our Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, the Council calls for studies to determine the feasibility of reintroducing of reintroducing anadromous fish above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams. Puget's experience with reintroducing salmon past Baker Dam, while a much smaller facility, helps our understanding of the challenges in this effort.


Northwest Energy Future: Efficient, Low-cost, Low Carbon

posted Jun 12, 2015


Preliminary modeling results indicate that the future of electric power in the Northwest is efficient, low-cost, low-carbon, and reliable. In fact, energy efficiency may meet nearly all new load growth for the next 20 years.

That’s the message from the latest preliminary results of the Council’s early scenario analysis modeling using its Regional Portfolio Model, which estimates the regional costs and risks associated with pursuing resource development strategies. Results from the model will be used to inform the components of the resource strategy in the Seventh Northwest Power Plan, which should be completed by the end of 2015.

In the latest round of modeling, the Council’s power planning staff looked at three scenarios across 800 possible futures. The first removed all uncertainty so that resources are selected with perfect knowledge of such variables as load growth, natural gas prices and water conditions. The second, and more realistic scenario, tested resource strategies across a wide range of load growth, wholesale electricity market prices, natural gas costs and water conditions. This scenario reflected current energy policy, but assumed no incremental cost or limits on future carbon emissions. The third scenario is identical to the second, except that it modeled uncertainty in the future cost of carbon emissions ranging from zero to $110 per metric ton. Highlights from the preliminary results include:

  • An estimated 3,800-4,500 average megawatts of energy efficiency are cost-effective to be developed over the 20-year planning horizon.
  • Net regional load stays essentially flat for the 20-year planning period as long as the energy efficiency is achieved.
  • While energy efficiency meets nearly all load growth, new generating plants may be needed beginning around 2026, primarily to replace retiring coal plants.
  • Demand response, which means voluntarily reducing power consumption during periods of peak demand, is selected by the model to meet winter peaking capacity requirements. Demand response resources are being selected by the model because they come in smaller increments, have shorter lead times, and are lower cost than thermal resources.
  • Only about 900 megawatts of renewable energy capacity (300 average megawatts of energy), is developed, mostly after 2026. “This development is not to offset carbon but because the second phases of some states’ renewable portfolio standards come into play and there’s not enough renewable energy credits in the bank to cover them,” Power Planning Director Tom Eckman said.

Forest Fires and Fish Habitat

posted May 19, 2015

This Plan Is Your Plan

posted Apr 30, 2015

Lunch and Learn With the Council

posted Mar 31, 2015

Scenario Analysis Begins

posted Feb 11, 2015

Scenario Analysis Is Coming!

posted Jan 22, 2015

"The Objectives Process" begins

posted Dec 11, 2014

Why We Plan for Uncertainty

posted Nov 19, 2014

Why We Have a Regional Power Plan

posted Oct 29, 2014

Estimating Energy Efficiency

posted Oct 24, 2014

Seventh Power Plan 101

posted Oct 6, 2014

BPA Energy Efficiency Funding

posted Mar 12, 2014

Weathering a Cold Snap

posted Jan 17, 2014

The Seventh Power Plan

posted Dec 11, 2013

Designing for Efficiency

posted Nov 12, 2013

The Flexibility Challenge

posted Oct 30, 2013

Northwest Q & A: Robert D. Kahn

posted Oct 29, 2013

Tagging Sturgeon in Astoria

posted Aug 22, 2013

Habitat Tours Focus on Results

posted May 31, 2013

Sustainability Is Success

posted May 29, 2013

A Last Look at Condit Dam

posted Oct 24, 2011

Changing Minds, Changing the Land

posted Jul 26, 2011

Wind Power, Then and Now

posted Apr 18, 2011

The Rebound Effect: Is It Real?

posted Feb 1, 2011

An Update on Didymo

posted Jan 27, 2011

Didymo: A New Kind of Invader

posted Jan 18, 2011

A Good Year for Returning Salmon

posted Sep 30, 2010

Building a Better Battery

posted Aug 11, 2010

Using Batteries to Store Energy

posted Jul 28, 2010

Growing Summer Energy Demand

posted Jul 26, 2010

California's Energy Scene

posted Jul 23, 2010

Ensuring Efficiency

posted Jun 21, 2010

Making Wind Work

posted Jun 7, 2010

Clean Tech Draws VC Funding

posted May 3, 2010

And the Wind Came Up

posted Apr 6, 2010