Transmission Group Finds Energy Efficiency Helps Defer Costs of Expanding the Grid

Columbia Grid’s analysis cites efficiency in reducing load, one contributor to the deferral of new transmission reinforcements

Although transmission planning lies outside the scope of the Council’s power planning responsibilities, it coordinates its work with the region’s transmission planners in order to understand how grid expansions affect energy resources. 

At its October power committee meeting, Paul Didsayabutra, manager of grid planning for ColumbiaGrid, reviewed his organization’s planning activities, including the results of its 2016 system assessment. The ColumbiaGrid's mission is to improve the reliability and efficient use of the Northwest's transmission grid.

Low load growth over the past several years is one of the key takeaways from the assessment. Reduced industrial loads, energy efficiency, and other demand-side activities are the primary factors causing load reduction. And this results in a more cost-efficient transmission system. 

“Energy efficiency means less electricity consumption, which helps defer transmission upgrades,” said Didsayabutra. 

The Council’s Seventh Power Plan recommends developing about 4,300 average megawatts of energy efficiency by 2035 to meet all forecast load growth over that timeframe.