- Energy efficiency could become a resource as large as the Pacific Northwest's hydroelectric generation in the next two decades, according to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's proposed plan to meet the region's future electricity demand, the Associated Press reports.
- In the overwhelming majority of scenarios forecasted by the group, energy efficiency can meet the region's growing electricty demand through 2035, NPCC predicts in its draft titled "Seventh Northwest Conservation and Electric Power Plan."
- Energy efficiency is the plan's main thrust for the next six years, followed by increased demand response and power imports to meet demand under critical conditions.
Two decades from now, hydroelectric power will still be the Pacific Northwest's largest source of energy – but, perhaps just barely. If developed "aggressively, in combination with past efficiency acquisition," demand management strategies could almost equal hydro generation.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC) is still considering comments and analyzing the plan, but a draft of its seventh plan to meet the region's power demand leans heavily on efficiency and demand response before considering imports and new gas fired generation.
"Acquiring this energy efficiency is the primary action for the next six years," the according to the draft plan, followed by demand response deployment, imports and new gas generation.
The region’s hydroelectric system has so far provided more than enough power, but the report said it is "likely that under low water and extreme weather conditions we’ll need additional winter peaking capacity to maintain system adequacy."
But because the probability of needing that extra power is low, NPCC is targeting resources with low holding costs, like demand response. But that comes with a caveat: "Whether and to what extent the region should rely on demand response or increase its reliance on power imports to meet regional resource adequacy requirements for winter capacity depends on their comparative availability, reliability, and cost," the report concludes.
The plan also looks at how the region can reduce carbon emissions and forecast that with no additional carbon control policies, carbon dioxide emissions from the Northwest power system will decrease from about 55 million metric tons in 2015 to around 34 million metric tons in 2035. Other policies, which include retiring all coal facilities in the region, could reduce emissions to about 12 MMTE, "almost 80% below 2015 emissions (under average water conditions)."