Update on Scenario Analysis Results

Preliminary results see low-risk and low-cost resource strategies converge

At its May meeting, the Council reviewed the preliminary results from its early scenario analysis modeling. The Council's regional portfolio model explores how different resource strategies play out against a range of future conditions. It's used to help understand the best ways to ensure a reliable and affordable power system, and it's a critical part of developing the Council's power plan.

"Our findings are preliminary," said Ben Kujala, system analysis manager. "We need to investigate further what we're seeing, but we're pretty confident that we're beginning to see some overall trends."

Staff began by comparing how two resource strategies--least cost and least risk--would fare across 800 futures under a scenario with current policies for renewable resource development and lower carbon emissions and a scenario with carbon costs anywhere from zero to $110 per ton.

In a future with little or no load growth, increasing renewable development, and coal plant retirements, the resource strategies chosen by the model are dominated by energy efficiency and demand response. Efficient combined-cycle combustion turbines are selected over gas peaking plants when future carbon risks are included in the analysis.

Adequacy, rather than economics, is a key driver for new resource additions.

"Over almost all of the futures being tested, we see new resources being built to meet the Council's resource adequacy standard and not for their potential profitability," noted Kujala.

One of the striking findings is how similar the costs and risks are for both scenarios.

"We think that the low load forecast and short construction times for new generation is what's driving the convergence between the low-risk and low-cost strategies," said Kujala.

Other key takeaways:

  • Energy efficiency supplies above 80 percent of capacity added to the system by the end of the 20-year planning period under both scenarios
  • Carbon emissions are significantly reduced in both scenarios; even without considering carbon risk, regional power system emissions are on average 35 percent lower than today by by 2030
  • Demand response plays a major role in both scenarios

"These are just a preview of our initial results," noted Power Division Director Tom Eckman. "We'll continue updating you on our findings and getting feedback from our advisory committees."

The next power committee webinar is on May 26, and will focus on updates on the scenario analysis.