Council Seeks Public Comment to Help Prepare for Next Power Plan, Launch Climate and Weather Advisory Committee

Council staff will host a webinar on April 3, 9-11am PT, explaining issue paper and process for upcoming power plan in greater detail.

The public now has the opportunity to help inform early preparations for the Council’s next power plan, and to guide formation of an advisory committee that will advise the Council on its analysis of the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the Pacific Northwest’s power system.

During its March 13 meeting in Portland, the Council voted to approve an issue paper written by Power Division staff to outline some early thinking before the process of developing the power plan officially commences in 2025.

This will be the Council’s ninth power plan. Each plan’s goal is to ensure an adequate, economical, efficient, and reliable power supply across the Pacific Northwest. For the rest of 2024, the Council and the Power Division staff will be preparing the data analysis and system models that they will use to develop the ninth power plan. First, though, they need public input to shape the scenario analysis addressing priority risks and uncertainties for the power system. Council staff will host a webinar on April 3, 9-11am PT, explaining the issue paper and upcoming process in greater detail. Public comment will be accepted through April 26.

Extreme weather in January highlights need for Climate & Weather Advisory Committee

The Council also listened to a briefing on the impacts of an extreme winter storm that hit the region in January from Tomás Morrissey, a Senior Power Analyst for the Council, and James Gall, Electric Integrated Resource Planning Manager for Avista, a natural gas and electric utility headquartered in Spokane that serves Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (watch a video of the presentation).

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, temperatures plunged to -12°F in Spokane, and -24°F in the surrounding region. Avista was one of several utilities in the region to be near or surpass record highs for power demand that weekend. Avista’s power consumption was 1,869 megawatts, on par with the 1,889 megawatts of demand that it experienced during the June 2021 heat dome.

Gall said the utility successfully navigated disruptions in both gas and renewable energy supplies without widespread outages. But he called it “one of the most critical resource adequacy events we've seen in the Northwest in 20 years,” and urged the region’s energy planners to use events like this to test whether the Northwest has adequate and reliable power supplies.

The Council’s new Climate and Weather Advisory Committee aims to do precisely that. The advisory committee will help inform strategies that will ensure the power system can pass the test posed by extreme weather and climate change without experiencing prolonged or significant power outages.

Expected impacts of climate change include more extreme weather events hitting the region, as well as shifts in temperatures and precipitation. The Council’s 2021 Power Plan took a significant leap forward in how it incorporated data in its analysis that captured impacts from climate change. For the ninth plan, the Council looks to build on that work to ensure that climate change and weather impacts on loads and resources are adequately captured in the modeling.

Within the Pacific Northwest Region, the proposed committee will advise the Council on its work to:

  • Review climate model streamflow and temperature data, such as that from the River Management Joint Operation Committee (RMJOC) climate model data set;
  • Select a set of climate model wind and solar data that are as consistent as possible with the selected streamflow and temperature data relative to the Council’s power planning needs and transforming the data for use in power system models;
  • Select and transform relevant climate model data for use in modeling energy efficiency measures, demand response interventions, and other distributed energy resources;
  • Review recent extreme weather events, assessing their representation in the climate data, and, if necessary, providing recommendations on how to ensure sufficient representation of extreme weather in the Plan;
  • Assess and provide recommendations on other future climate- and weather-related topics as necessary in support of the Plan.

Within the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) region, the committee will work to:

  • Select climate model data for weather-dependent generation resources, such as hydro, wind, and solar generation, as inputs in the Council’s power system models.

On March 13, the Council voted to release the proposal for this new Climate & Weather Advisory Committee and accept public comment until April 12. Assuming regional support, the Council will look to officially charter this committee at its May meeting.