Outgoing Council Chair Henry Lorenzen Offers Some Final Thoughts

The importance of using the Council's rigorous analytical methodologies to achieve lower carbon emissions

At the Council's January meeting, Chair Henry Lorenzen offered some final thoughts as his tenure closes. The following are his verbatim remarks for the record:

Now I’m going to have the opportunity before we do, I still control the gavel and I control it for however long I’m willing to talk here and people are willing to listen. 

But I want to mention just a couple of things I perceive as trends that I think have a significant impact upon what the Council does, and its work in the future.  And going back to 1980 we’re here and we exist as a Council and also the Act was passed because the region had a major error, committed a major error in decisions with regard to resources to be acquired.  WPPSS Plants 1 through 5.  And it had a dramatic impact and it continues to have a dramatic impact upon ratepayers and Bonneville Power Administration’s competitiveness.  And the Act anticipated that we would exist and we would have a staff and a mission to develop a more rigorous methodology with regard to planning resources for the area, and have over the last many years our staff, an incredibly capable staff, has developed state-of-the-art methodology by which to anticipate and also to determine the least-cost, least financial risk resources in order to meet needs based upon probabilistic modeling, taking into account a wide variety of, a wide range of variables. 

My concern is that as we’ve moved forward and we have developed these very rigorous models that have been recognized as state of the art that the traditional people and entities making decisions with regard to acquisition of resources are no longer doing so.  And as a result, I’m not certain whether our methodologies we’ve developed are in fact being taken into account to the extent they should be when resource decisions are being made.  And you look back at our Power Plan, the 7th Power Plan, the conclusion was very stark with regard to the additional renewable resources necessary in order to meet the Obama Clean Power Plan regionally.  But very shortly after the release of our Power Plan, decisions were made to substantially increase our renewable that were to be developed within the Northwest, and that was done by the legislature and other political activities. 

Our challenge, I believe, is to make certain in the future to best we can that the methodologies that we have developed also are taken into consideration by those entities, those persons who are making those decisions, whether it be the traditional utility managers or the legislators. 

That’s a tough task because this is a complicated area, these are complicated matters, on the surface it sounds as if those of us, and I am one, are very concerned about environmental issues, very concerned about carbon, but we have to do it, we have to bring the same methodology that we used in planning for generating resources into the era and into the area of environmental protection, including carbon reduction.  By doing so we marshal our resources and we achieve a greater good, I believe, ultimately with regard to these matters that are so critically important. 

And the other thing, just a tangential matter, has to do with carbon reduction.  I hope, and I was very struck by Steve Wright’s presentation to us when he complimented us, which is always nice to have a compliment from somebody by Steve Wright, on the methodology used for developing the resource acquisition analysis in the 7th Power Plan; but he also then lamented the fact that it was important to believe that we were not using the same rigor in looking at how to go about reducing carbon and our Council staff has, we did do this in the 7th Power Plan and we have methodologies available to assist those who are making the decisions.  The question is how do we go about making that inter-connect with those people that are doing that? 

And so with that, that’s my caution, my look forward.  I hope that the Council can determine and are successful in promoting and also making our tools available and also used by the whole range of people who make those decisions with regard to power planning as well as carbon reduction.