Energy Efficiency as a Resource

The Northwest Power Act was groundbreaking in its approach to conservation, treating it as a priority resource to be considered in integrated resource planning. The Section 3(3) of the Northwest Power Act defines conservation as “any reduction in electric power consumption as a result of an increase in the efficiency of energy use, production, or distribution.” Section 4(e) outlines key considerations and necessary elements of any plan. This includes treating cost-effective conservation measures as a priority resource.[1] Additionally, the plan must include “an energy conservation program, including model conservation standards” to be implemented by Bonneville, and “set forth a general scheme for implementing conservation measures and develop resources ... to reduce or meet the Administrator’s obligations.” Bonneville in turn shall acquire conservation resources and implement all conservation measures as Bonneville determines to be consistent with the plan, and make use of its authorities to the maximum extent practicable to acquire conservation and implement conservation measures, in order to effectuate the priority given to conservation under the Act.[2]

Over the years, this priority treatment for cost-effective energy efficiency has allowed it to become the second largest resource in the region behind hydro power. The energy efficiency achievements have extended the value of the Northwest hydro system by avoiding the construction of new power plants and helping to defer costs of transmission and distribution expansion. The combination of low-cost hydro and energy efficiency have resulted in some of the lowest electricity costs in the country.

In addition to the benefits for the power system, energy efficiency provides benefits to all consumers in the region. The cumulative efficiency savings since 1980 has resulted in over $4 billion in annual consumer electric bill savings. These savings have also avoided over 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Efficiency has also shown to provide reductions in other non-energy consumables, such as water and provide additional benefits to consumers in the form of health, comfort, and productivity.

This section provides more detail on the Council’s analysis of energy efficiency for the 2021 Power Plan:

  • Conservation Program: This section pulls together all the key findings and recommendations around energy efficiency for the plan, including conservation targets, the model conservation standards, and other recommendations.
  • Conservation Potential: This section provides detail on the energy efficiency supply curves, broken out by sector.
  • Conservation Methodologies: This section outlines the general methodology used by the Council for estimating energy efficiency resource potential.
  • Cost Effectiveness Methodology: This section details the methodology for determining the cost-effective limit for energy efficiency.

[1] Section 3(4) of the Power Act outlines the considerations for cost-effective resources. This includes being reliable and available within the power planning timeframe and the ability to reduce or meet electric power demand at a cost no greater than the least-cost similarly available resources. Per this section, conservation is given a 10 percent cost advantage relative to other resources considered in the plan.

[2] Northwest Power Act, Sections 6(a)(1) and 6(e)(1).