A proposed plan for the Northwest power system relies heavily on increasing energy efficiency and ramped up use of existing natural gas-fired power plants to offset coal-fired power plants.
Tri-City-area residents will have a chance to comment on the Draft Seventh Northwest Conservation and Electric Power Plan at a meeting Nov. 13 in Pasco. It will start at 5 p.m. at the Best Western at 2811 N. 20th Ave.
The Pacific Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which was authorized by Congress, revises its 20-year plan every five years to determine the least-cost power plan for the Northwest. The Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies power to local utilities such as the Benton and Franklin PUDs and the city of Richland, is required to make decisions about the future electricity supply that are consistent with the plan.
Computer modeling done for the draft report consistently showed that energy efficiency is the the least expensive and least economically risky resource to meet additional electricity demand.
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“Meeting the energy efficiency goals in the draft power plan will reduce electricity bills over time for consumers as well as help keep the regional power supply adequate, reliable and low-carbon,” said Council Chairman Phil Rockefeller, in a statement.
The plan’s second priority is to develop increased demand response resources. They would allow customers to voluntarily reduce electricity use during periods of high demand for electricity or when the electricity supply is limited.
The next most cost-effective option to meet increased electricity needs for the region in the near-term would be natural gas-fired generation, the draft report said. Natural gas also offers the lowest cost option for reducing regional carbon emissions other than increased energy efficiency.
The proposed plan should allow the region — Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana — to comply with Environmental Protection Agency carbon emission limits, even at times that hydro production is limited by low water, it said.
With no changes to carbon control policies, carbon dioxide emissions from the Northwest power system are forecast to decrease from about 55 million metric tons this year to 34 metric tons in 2035, under the draft proposal. It includes the planned shutdown of the three coal plants, including the Boardman, Oregon, plant between 2020 and 2026.
The plan also encourages research to improve the long-term efficiency and reliability of the power system. It lists small modular nuclear reactors, ocean waves, geothermal and emerging energy efficiency technologies as having possible potential. New ways to store electric power also could make current wind generation more valuable, the draft report said.
Investments in research, development and demonstration projects could boost long-term development of the technologies, it said.
The plan is posted at www.nwcouncil.org. A link is provided there to submit public comments until Dec. 18.