Northwest Will Need to Add Generating Capacity by 2021 to Maintain an Adequate Power Supply

Demand response, wind, and solar resources could help fill the gap

The Council projects that the region will need to add about 400 megawatts of effective capacity — generating capability that can be counted on during any shortfall hour — in order to maintain an adequate power supply.

The planned retirements of the Boardman, Centralia 1, and North Valmy coal plants by 2021 will mean losing 1,457 megawatts of generating capacity and an additional 352 megawatts is scheduled to retire by 2022. The good news is that energy efficiency savings of 1,570 average megawatts will help replace the coal plant generation.

Each year, the Council assesses the five-year adequacy of the region's power supply to make sure resource development keeps pace with demand growth. The Council defines an adequate supply to have no more than a 5 percent chance of a resource shortfall in the year being assessed, known as the loss-of-load-probability.

Other key points in the report include:

  • The updated load forecasts for 2021 and 2022 project a general trend toward lower winter peaks and higher summer peaks
  • This translates into a lower likelihood of winter problems but increased probability of summer shortfalls
  • Depending on actual load growth and availability of surplus California generation, the regional need for new capacity ranges from none at all to about 1,000 megawatts

Demand response, which plays a big role in the Council's energy strategy for the region, could help fill the projected gap in resources need in 2021. The Council recommended developing 600 megawatts by 2021. Utilities are also aware of the need for capacity and have identified over 1,200 megawatts of capacity resources, 200 megawatts of demand response and over 500 megawatts of wind and solar capacity, all of which could be brought online by 2021, if needed. Since they are not yet sited and licensed, these resources weren't included in the Council's analysis. The adequacy report reflects a regional perspective and individual utilities will evaluate their own need for new resources.