In developing the recommended resource strategy, the Northwest Power Act requires the Council to give priority to resources that are cost-effective. This includes resources that are “reliable and available within the time it is needed, and to meet or reduce the electric power demand […] at an estimated incremental system cost no greater than that of the least-cost similarly reliable and available alternative measure or resource.” We recognize that while the resource strategy must focus on those resources available today, there are many potential opportunities in the pipeline that might meet future power system needs at lower costs. To this end, the Council recommends that the region continue to invest in researching emerging opportunities.

[National Labs, Research Institutions, Trade Allies, Regional Utilities]

As many states and utilities progress towards clean, non-carbon emitting energy portfolios, there are opportunities for new, emerging supply-side technologies to compete with established renewable resources — such as onshore wind and solar photovoltaic — and play a critical role in the future power system. The Council recommends that the national labs, research institutions, trade allies, and utilities continue to work with developers and manufacturers to research and explore the regional resource potential of supply-side emerging technologies such as offshore wind, small modular nuclear, enhanced geothermal systems, energy storage, carbon sequestration technologies, and other carbon-free resources. In addition, the Council urges the region to identify potential barriers to deployment, including costs, transmission, siting, etc., and work together towards solutions when it is in the best interest of the region. 

[NEEA, Universities, Labs, Bonneville, Utility Programs]

On the demand-side, new innovations in efficient technologies provide paths to lower cost energy efficiency. To ensure that efficiency measures are readily available and reliable, research is needed to understand the efficacy and applicability of potential technologies. The Council recommends that efficacy programs, through NEEA, regional universities, national labs, and others should continue to invest in its emerging technology research for efficiency measures. This effort includes scanning for new emerging technologies, pilot studies to provide case studies for program opportunities, and field research to verify real world savings. With less lower cost energy efficiency than in prior years, and greater competition with generating resources, this research should also explore opportunities for cost reduction and paths forward that provide the most efficiency benefit at the lowest costs. The Council also recommends the RTF increase the rigor of its measure cost analysis to support improved comparison with alternative resources in future resource planning. Further, the Council recommends additional research around demand response opportunities. Our analysis for this plan demonstrates that demand response products that can be frequently deployed at low cost provide significant value to system to maintain adequacy and reduce emissions. As utilities and Bonneville explore the value of demand response, the Council recommends that the region continue to develop these “non-traditional” applications that may provide more value than the standard peak reducing product.