Update on Bonneville Power Administration’s 2024 Resource Program

Ryan Egerdahl, manager of long-term power planning for the Bonneville Power Administration, presented an overview of its long-term resource program at the Council’s June meeting.

Bonneville’s upcoming Resource Program is scheduled for completion in fall of 2024, shedding light on potential resource acquisition strategies informing its post-2028 contract negotiations.

“The program is a long-term resource acquisition plan,” noted Egerdahl. “So, we’re focused on what to do if we’re looking at deficits.”

The planning approach is focused on understanding how various uncertainties impact the least-cost resource portfolio. Bonneville is making several enhancements to this upcoming resource program, including refining the geographic footprint to align planning with the Western Resource Adequacy Program and using a new optimization approach that will allow Bonneville to test more sensitivities.

The post-2028 discussions have highlighted significant load growth for many Bonneville customers. Should customers place some or all of that expected load on Bonneville, it will need to acquire additional resources.

But knowing what and when to build is the eternal question in power planning, and it’s especially acute today. Member KC Golden noted the “chicken vs. egg” problem for power planners.

“There is positive momentum to build,” said Egerdahl. “But the question is, does the load materialize and when? Do power producers want to develop their own resources? Transmission is a constraint, and data center load, especially in Oregon and Washington, are all uncertainties we’re evaluating.”

Under the Northwest Power Act, Bonneville’s resource acquisition decisions should be consistent with the Council’s 2021 Power Plan, and staff is working closely with the Bonneville team as they develop its resource program.

The Council’s plan recommends acquiring between 270 and 360 average megawatts of cost-effective energy efficiency by the end of 2027, at least 243 average megawatts from programs, and at least 865 average megawatts by 2041. The plan also recommends that Bonneville help customer utilities acquire low-cost demand response, consider market resources when needed, and explore renewables as an alternative to market purchases as part of a least-cost solution.

“We expect to have some mix of energy efficiency, demand response, renewables, and firm power in a portfolio specific to BPA,” said Egerdahl. “Reliance on the wholesale power market will also be a big factor.