Public comments on the Draft Seventh Power Plan showed strong support for energy efficiency and demand response, the two primary means of meeting the anticipated new demand for electricity over the next 20 years, Council staff reported at a meeting in Portland this week. The comment period began last October and ended in December and included eight public hearings around the Northwest.
The Council received a total of 470 comments – 380 in writing. Nearly 150 individuals submitted written comments or offered letters in support of the comments provided by others.
In response to the comments, the Council will consider:
- Whether to adopt a minimum goal for energy efficiency
- Whether to include a goal for demand response (voluntary reductions in power use during periods of peak demand in summer and winter) of 700 – 1,100 megawatts by 2021
- Consider whether to revise assumptions about the future use of new and existing natural gas-fired plants, based on comments that 1) the draft plan has an unrealistically low expectation of the need for natural gas-fired generation in the next six years, and 2) the draft plan relies too heavily on natural gas in the future
- Review the plan’s assumptions about renewable resources that are not yet ready for utility-scale development such as energy storage, energy market improvements, smart grid applications, some types of geothermal power, and customer behavioral programs that could help integrate renewables.
Also in response to comments the Council decided not to model the removal of the four federal dams on the lower Snake River, as it did in the Sixth Plan (2010), as the scenario in the Seventh Plan that models the planned loss of a large non-carbon-emitting resource is sufficient to show how the power from the dams would be replaced if they were removed.
News media attention to the draft plan also was favorable. The Associated Press reported in a story that was picked up by news media in the Northwest and as far away as California, Texas, and Connecticut that, according to the Council, "The Pacific Northwest can meet nearly all of its power demand over the next 20 years with energy efficiency and voluntary reductions of power use during periods of peak demand."
Editorial writers praised the plan. The Oregonian commented, "The Council's plan is built on rational calculations that address inexpensively meeting power demand in the next two decades while also encouraging the development of steady-output renewables." The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, wrote: "…This is as favorable an outlook as could be hoped for: Adequate power supplies can be drawn from the least expensive and cleanest source. The Council’s projection draws credibility from the fact that the Northwest has met its electricity needs for the past 15 years through conservation." The Seattle Times commented, "The Northwest Power Act gave expression to original, long-term planning. It continues to work in the public interest, including the latest power plan."
The Council has scheduled webinars to discuss the plan on February 3 and February 4.