Council Adopts 2021 Northwest Power Plan; Highlights Renewables, Energy Efficiency in a Changing Power System

At its February meeting, the Council adopted its 2021 Northwest Power Plan to ensure a reliable and economic power supply for the region.

The plan was developed as major shifts are happening in the electricity industry: Clean energy policies and decarbonization goals to address climate change; a dramatic drop in the cost of wind and solar energy; and retiring coal plants across the West – 60 percent of the region’s fleet is set to retire by 2028.

“The plan provides a roadmap as the energy system is moving toward cleaner resources,” noted Council Chair Guy Norman. “At the same time, the plan recommends actions that will secure the reliability of our power supply.”

The Council, established by Congress through the 1980 Northwest Power Act, develops a 20-year power plan through a public process that includes a resource strategy for 2022-2041, with a focus on a near-term, six-year action plan for 2022-2027.

The six-year action plan calls for developing at least 3,500 megawatts of new renewable resources in the Northwest to provide energy and offset the emissions from the region’s existing fossil fuel-based generation. Policies and pressure to reduce carbon emissions, combined with the low cost and the ability to quickly build renewables are driving their development.

The recommended acquisition of cost-effective energy efficiency, the region’s second largest energy resource, is targeted between 750 to 1,000 average megawatts to help maintain an adequate system, meet load growth from future electrification from cars for example, and reduce risk from rapidly changing market dynamics.

Hydropower, the Northwest’s largest resource, along with natural gas, nuclear, and the remaining coal generation will continue to be the backbone of the grid, providing necessary support to ensure an adequate and affordable system and to integrate new resources. In addition to renewables and energy efficiency, the plan recommends implementing demand response – low-cost ways utilities and their customers can seamlessly reduce their electricity use when needed – and by maximizing the efficiency of the existing power system.

“We heard from people throughout the region and sought to address their concerns and needs in this plan,” noted Power Committee Chair Pat Oshie. “It charts a course to navigate the changes underway that will affect all of us.”

For a pre-publication copy of the plan, please contact Chad Madron.


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