Video Interview: Solar Power, Electricity Prices, and What Modeling is Saying About the Future Power Supply

  • May 11, 2021

Modeling for the 2021 Power Plan by the Council’s power planning staff is producing some interesting results and raising some intriguing questions.

For example, why does the modeling show a need for new power supply in the near term, but not in the longer term? As well, the primary new type of power supply in our future is solar, largely because it is low-cost and it fits with state policies to reduce carbon emissions across the economy, including in the power sector. But the anticipated massive buildout of solar power plants in the West will have the effect of driving down wholesale power prices especially in the middle of the day. How will that affect power system adequacy and prices in the Northwest?

And finally, the advent of low market prices driven by renewable resource development in the West, particularly solar power in California, may remind some people of the power-supply disaster that occurred in 2001 when market prices exploded because of power supply problems up and down the West Coast.

To help answer these questions, John Ollis, manager of planning and analysis in the Council’s Power Planning Division, explains in this video some of the preliminary results of the Council’s modeling for the 2021 Power Plan.