A (Lot of) Work in Progress: Updates on Modeling, Resource Adequacy and Emerging Technologies

My teenagers have recently adopted one of my husband’s favorite expressions: It’s a work in progress.

Me: Did you move your laundry to the dryer?

Husband: It’s a work in progress. (His clothes are definitely still in the washer).

Me: Did you return your soccer uniform to school?

Teenager: It’s a work in progress. (The uniform clearly still sits on the bench in our entryway).

You get the idea.

So, it’s probably not surprising that one of the things I thought as I listened to staff present to the Council’s power committee last week was: It’s a work in progress. But my analogy ends there.

John Ollis, Dor Hirsh Bar Gai, and the rest of their team’s work on the Council’s resource adequacy modeling is very far from my family’s tendency to procrastinate the mundane. Instead, it is an immense, and honestly, dazzling level of detailed analytics on the region’s available energy resources – all part of the 2027 Resource Adequacy Assessment. When complete in January, the adequacy assessment will provide a near term “check in” on the Council’s 2021 Power Plan twenty-year resource strategy.

On November 15, staff provided the power committee a review of their work to update the GENESYS model to better reflect actual operations of the region’s hydropower facilities. While the redeveloped GENEYSYS continues to be refined this month, staff was able to share with the Council some of what the updated model shows, as well as some feedback from the Council’s technical workshop and resource adequacy advisory committee meeting.

Broadly, the project-by-project review conducted by Council staff over the past few months has increased regional understanding of this complex model. These enhancements have improved alignment between modeling results and actual plant operations.

In terms of key takeaways – and this is admittedly a confusing nuance, albeit an important one – while the redeveloped GENESYS shows more hydro flexibility and storage in the system than the Council’s older model, the recent updates to the model have decreased that flexibility somewhat from what was assumed in 2021 Power Plan.

Staff shared preliminary results of the new GENEYSYS model assessment of the resource strategy laid out in the Council’s 2021 plan. The plan provided some room for the region to adjust to meet changing needs and called for:

  • At least 3,500 megawatts of renewables
  • A range of 750 average megawatts - 1000 average megawatts of energy efficiency, while recognizing there might be a need to get the energy efficiency quickly
  • Need for 3,100 megawatts of additional regional reserves (above the 2,900 megawatts assumed to be already available) to support integration of renewables

The preliminary results suggest that the bare minimum of the 2021 plan strategy is not sufficient for an adequate system.

Based on the model response to date, staff recommends testing the following for the 2027 assessment:

  • 6,500 megawatts of renewables. This is adding 3,000 megawatts of renewables from the base in 2021 plan and is consistent with the results of many of the scenario runs in the plan and current regional planning by utilities
  • 1,000 average megawatts of energy efficiency. This represents the top end of the recommended range, suggesting the region may need to acquire energy efficiency rapidly
  • 8,500 megawatts of balancing reserves. This represents an additional 2,500 megawatts of reserves from the minimum in the strategy
  • 720 megawatts of demand response, consistent with the recommendation in the 2021 plan around time of use and demand voltage regulation

Council and staff discussed this strategy in response to the preliminary model results. Analysis is still underway to understand the adequacy of the regional system with the resource strategy of the plan under a range of scenarios. And staff is continuing to have conversations with regional partners, building additional confidence in the new model. The final analysis will be shared with the power committee on December 13. As I said – a lot of work is in progress!

Staff also updated the committee on the work to revise the Council’s resource adequacy standard, to use a more accurate metric or, more likely, multiple metrics. The recommendation to the Council is to move on from the long-relied-upon loss of load probability. Feedback from regional partners has been encouraging, expressing the general view that the new metrics would provide a better measure of risk for the region.

See presentation and video from the November 15 meeting.

The next day, the full Council heard about several important emerging resources - more works in progress to ensure an adequate, reliable, and clean system in the coming years.

  • PGE Virtual Power Plant (presentation and video). Defined as “a power plant, consisting of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) and Flexible Loads, orchestrated through a technology platform, to provide grid and power operations services.” Council heard from Franco Albi, Director of Regional Integration at PGE, on their focus to meet clean energy targets, given transmission constraints, extreme weather and willing customers.
  • Grant PUD Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) (presentation and video). Kevin Nordt updated the Council on Grant’s work with developers on an advanced reactor. The XE-100 could provide up to 320 MW SMR by 2028. The 2021 Plan identified SMRs as an emerging resource for the region to continue to explore.
  • Renewable Hydrogen Alliance (RHA) (presentation and video). Michelle Detwiler, Executive Director of the four-year old RHA shared an update on their work to advocate for effective hydrogen policy to help meet statutory greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, as well as several hydrogen projects under development around the region.