The Northwest is currently on track to meet efficiency goals in the Seventh Northwest Power Plan (2016) after achieving an estimated 228 average megawatts of savings in 2018, Council staff reported at the Council’s September meeting in Corvallis, Oregon. Expressed as demand for power, that would be enough for about 164,000 Northwest homes.
In February 2016, the Council released its Seventh Northwest Power Plan. The Plan identifies the energy efficiency savings potential in the Northwest and establishes regional savings goals for every two years. The region has achieved an estimated 637 average megawatts from 2016 through 2018. That is ahead of the implied three-year milestone in the Seventh Plan of 600 average megawatts. Goals in the Seventh Plan are 1,400 average megawatts of savings through Fiscal year 2021 and a 20-year total of 4,300 average megawatts through 2035.
The Council’s annual conservation progress survey collects data on energy efficiency savings from efficiency programs administered by investor-owned and public utilities; the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), a collaboration of 140 utilities and efficiency organizations that works on promoting energy-efficient products and services; federal and state energy codes and standards; and market momentum, which are additional savings in the market above and beyond those achieved by efficiency programs or NEEA.
While the region currently is on track to meet Seventh Plan goals, there are some areas to watch including forecasts of declining savings from efficiency programs and whether the region will identify new savings opportunities to replace those of residential lighting.
Utilities’ achievements in energy efficiency have been on an annual decline since 2016. Forecasts from utilities show that this trend is expected to continue, despite relatively stable funding levels. Given this trend, there is some uncertainty as to whether there will be enough savings from other mechanisms to reach the 1,400 average megawatt goal by the end of Fiscal Year 2021.
As in recent years, residential lighting provided significant, and increasing, savings in 2018, totaling 39 average megawatts. Despite success in lighting, the Council expects lighting savings will decline beginning in 2020 because as ever more efficient lamps enter the market, the base against which savings are measured becomes more efficient, as well, and that leaves less room for measurable improvements. Beyond lighting, significant efficiency potential remains in the residential sector. Shifting the emphasis toward heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and water heating, will help in meeting the efficiency potential.
Efficiency continues to contribute significant capacity savings – the ability to reduce peak loads. Energy efficiency has provided almost 6,900 average megawatts of savings since 1978. That is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of around 5.5 million homes. By building that much energy efficiency rather than building new power plants that burn fossil fuels, the region has avoided emissions totaling more than 21.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.