6th Power Plan Energy Efficiency Two-Pager

(Jump to 2nd part "Northwest Energy Efficiency Achievements, 1980-2008")

Energy Efficiency in the Future: The Sixth Northwest Power Plan

Energy efficiency is at the heart of the Sixth Northwest Power Plan, which the Council adopted in February 2010. The plan, the sixth five-year revision of the regional plan first adopted by the Council in 1982, guides the Bonneville Power Administration.

According to the Plan, Northwest population will increase from about 13 million today to 16.7 million by 2030, and load (the ongoing power requirement) will increase from about 21,000 average megawatts today to about 28,000 average megawatts by 2030, an increase of about 7,000 average megawatts overall.

Cost-effective energy efficiency could meet 85 percent of the new load over the next 20 years (about 5,900 of 7,000 average megawatts). This efficiency, combined with new renewable energy, could delay investments in new fossil-fuel power plants until future environmental legislation is clear and alternative low-carbon energy sources have matured in technology and cost.

The Plan includes five specific recommendations:

  1. Develop cost-effective energy efficiency aggressively — at least 1,200 average megawatts by 2015, and equal or slightly higher amounts every five years through 2030.
  2. Develop cost-effective renewable energy as required by state laws, particularly wind power, accounting for its variable output.
  3. Improve power-system operating procedures to integrate wind power and improve the efficiency and flexibility of the power system.
  4. Build new natural gas-fired power plants to meet local needs for on-demand energy and back-up power, and reduce reliance on existing coal-fired plants to help meet the power system’s share of carbon-reduction goals and policies.
  5. Investigate new technologies such as the “smart-grid,” new energy-efficiency and renewable energy sources, advanced nuclear power, and carbon sequestration.

Related links: Energy Efficiency talk

Northwest Energy Efficiency Achievements 1980-2008

How much energy efficiency has been achieved?

  • Through 2008 (the latest year for which we have data) regional savings were just shy of 4,000 average megawatts. Expressed as generated electricity, that is enough to power all of the state of Idaho and Western Montana all year, with enough left over to meet the needs of a city the size of Eugene.
  • In 2008, the region’ s electric utilities set an all-time record for acquiring energy efficiency - 235 average megawatts in one year (as generation, enough to power more than 14,200 Northwest homes for a year).
  • Since 1980, half of the growth in demand for electricity in the Northwest has been met with energy efficiency.
  • As a result of the conservation savings, we didn't have to build 8-10 new coal- or gas-fired generating plants. This means we emitted 15 million tons less carbon-dioxide in 2008 alone.
  • The average cost of these savings to utilities has been less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than the roughly 3 cents per kilowatt-hour the Bonneville Power Administration currently charges its electric-utility customers. Energy efficiency costs about 20 percent as much as wind power, which currently costs 8 to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  • Because consumers didn’t have to buy 4,000 average megawatts of electricity in 2008, they paid $1.8 billion less for electricity — even after accounting for the cost of energy-efficiency programs in their electric rates.

Where is the energy efficiency, past and future?

  • Major sources have been home weatherization (insulation, windows), improved efficiency in commercial lighting, improved irrigation efficiency (fewer leaks, more efficient pumps, lower water pressure), industrial motors, and lighting (installation of compact fluorescent lights, particularly).
  • In the future large savings are expected to come from more efficient televisions, high-performance windows, more efficient clothes washers, water heaters, and industrial energy use. There also is a significant potential available from improving the efficiency of utility distribution systems with better voltage management, higher-efficiency transformers, and other utility-level improvements. There even are significant savings available from more-efficient dairy farm equipment.

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