NW Acquired More Than 1,000 Average Megawatts of Energy Efficiency, 2016-2020; 40-Year Total Now 7,200

While energy efficiency improvements in the Northwest slowed a bit last year, the region has acquired 1,039 average megawatts of efficiency from 2016 through 2020. That’s slightly below to the five-year goal (1,115 average megawatts) in the Council’s Seventh Power Plan, issued in 2016.

The 2020 slowdown was partly due to the impacts of the pandemic and partly due to the increasing cost of efficiency measures, as much of the inexpensive efficiency improvements were achieved in past years. With the additions in 2020, the regional efficiency total since 1978, when efficiency improvements began in the region, totals 7,200 average megawatts. Expressed as electricity, that is enough to power six cities the size of Seattle for a year.

Annually, the Council collects information about energy efficiency achievements from Northwest utilities, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. The Alliance, an association of more than 140 utilities and energy efficiency organizations, works to increase the adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Results of the 2020 review were presented to the Council at its September meeting.

Here are some highlights from that report:

  • The region achieved 187 average megawatts of efficiency improvements in 2020, which is about a 14-percent decline from 2019. There are several possible reasons for the decline, including 1) efficiency expenditures have been flat or declining for several years; 2) the cost of acquiring efficiency improvements also increased; and 3) impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic.
  • The region will need to acquire 361 average megawatts of savings by the end of 2021 in order to achieve the six-year Action Plan goal in the Seventh Plan of 1,400 average megawatts
  • The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, reported 61 average megawatts of savings in 2020
  • Bonneville achieved 326 average megawatts of savings between 2016 and 2020, 31 percent of the total regional savings for that time period. That is less than the 42 percent that Bonneville has determined to be its share of the regional goal
  • In 2020, Bonneville acquired 35 average megawatts of efficiency improvements, 45 percent less than the 63 average megawatts Bonneville acquired in 2019. Most of the decrease came in the amount of utility self-funded efficiency.