For the past several years, NW Energy Coalition policy staff have participated actively in PacifiCorp’s resource planning process. Our twin goals: increasing the multi-state utility’s development of energy efficiency resources and reducing its reliance on outdated, climate-polluting coal plants. Our efforts and those of our clean energy allies are paying off.
Issues: Coal in the Northwest
The Northwest is blessed with bountiful energy efficiency and renewable resources – enough to meet all projected increases in electricity needs several times over. Despite this, coal plants are being proposed across the Northwest. In this section you’ll find information and the newest updates on this issue.
Coalition analysis: 7th Power Plan model minimizes looming coal plant costs, ignores out-of-region generators
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s 7th Plan will serve as a guide for choosing the best resources to meet electric needs over the next 20 years. A NW Energy Coalition issue paper, The True Cost of Coal: Fully accounting for coal-fired electricity use in the 7th Northwest Power and Conservation Plan, bares two shortcomings in the Council’s resource modeling that makes these polluting coal plants look cheaper than they are as a resource to meet the region’s needs.
This fall and spring, NW Energy Coalition staff have been working in state legislative sessions throughout the region to advance and especially to defend clean and affordable energy laws. Each legislature is different, but many of the issues being addressed are familiar ones: energy efficiency, including building codes; renewable energy incentives and targets; distributed generation options, particularly resident-sited solar power; and coal plants and climate. Low-income protection and electric vehicle infrastructure are also getting legislative looks.
There are many reasons to be joyous about clean energy advancements in 2014. The cost of solar and wind energy continues to fall, utilities are investing in energy storage and electric vehicle charging, Chinese coal demand is falling, sustainable investing is on the rise, and businesses are more vocal than ever on the need for climate action.
Oregonian article: Carbon limits and skeptical regulators force new scrutiny of PacifiCorp coal plant investments
The Oregon Public Utility Commission has concerns regarding PacifiCorps’ continued investments in coal-fired power plants. Regulators insist that the company should consider climate regulations and explore clean energy alternatives in the next iteration of its long-term resource plan.
In her Hungry Horse News op-ed, Anne Hedges of the Montana Environmental Information Center asserts that energy efficiency and renewable energy are more reliable than the aging Colstrip coal-fired power plant. Hedges claims that it’s time for Montana’s Public Service Commissioners to push NorthWestern Energy to replace Colstrip with clean energy sources because it will save customers money and create jobs in the long-run.
The MagicValley.com op-ed by Mary McGown asserts that Idaho Power needs to work aggressively for clean and affordable electricity. McGown maintains that achieving a coal-free, energy-efficient future will require changes by the utility and possibly in state law and regulations.
The real energy story of 2013 may turn out to be the death of coal.
That’s still a little premature, but consider: Ten years ago some 120 new coal power plants were in the siting and financing pipeline. Today, nearly all have been abandoned.
Thirty per cent of existing coal plants, representing nearly 20 percent of U.S. coal generating capacity, have been terminated or announced near-term closure dates. Coal’s share of U.S. power generation has dropped from 53 percent in 2000 to 37 percent today.
NW Energy Coalition policy director Nancy Hirsh presented the following comments at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public listening session Nov. 7 in Seattle. The session concerned EPA’s plan to set CO2 standards for existing power plants under Section 111d of the Clean Air Act…
The outcome of Idaho Power’s latest case at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission could affect the state’s energy picture for decades to come. If Idaho Power gets its way, the company and its customers will be married to a fleet of dirty coal plants for a very long time. Read more at the Snake River Alliance blog…