April 2023 newsletter – First ever Clean Energy Plan, rate increases, and more
Panelist line-ups announced for the Clean & Affordable Energy Conference
Panelist line-ups for our Spring 2023 Clean & Affordable Energy Conference have been announced and can be found on our website!
Panelists will discuss the following topics, with ample time for questions from the audience:
- Local Energy Resources and Resiliency
- The Value of Markets and Transmission Expansion to the West
- Resource Adequacy & Reliability
The conference will close out with a keynote address from Sonia Aggarwal, CEO of Energy Innovation LLC.
The Clean & Affordable Energy Conference is less than three weeks away! Get your ticket today.
In the States, on the Ground
The NW Energy Coalition recently joined a motion to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to reverse and block progress made by Washington’s new statewide building energy codes. The challenged code updates, which the Coalition supported, would protect the health and safety of building occupants, save energy, decrease costs, reduce air pollution that causes asthma and other health problems, and cut more than 8 million tons of climate-polluting carbon dioxide by 2050. A state law explicitly directs the State Building Code Council to establish an energy code that achieves the “broader goal of building zero fossil-fuel greenhouse gas emission homes and buildings by the year 2031.”
Other intervenors include Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Lands Council, the Sierra Club, and Climate Solutions, all of whom are being represented by Earthjustice.
Clean Energy Plans
The first ever Clean Energy Plan (CEP) under HB 2021 was recently filed by Portland General Electric (PGE). HB 2021 requires investor-owned utilities in OR (PacifiCorp and PGE) to generate 100% clean electricity by 2040. CEPs are the utility roadmaps towards meeting that requirement. PGE filed its CEP along with its Integrated Resource Plan on March 31. PacifiCorp is expected to file its CEP by May 31st. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) will now acknowledge whether PGE’s CEP is in the public interest and consistent with the clean energy targets in HB 2021 and will do so for PacifiCorp once its CEP is filed.
Distribution System Planning
The first full cycle of Distribution System Planning (DSP) has concluded in OR. The OR PUC has issued “acceptance” orders for the PacifiCorp, PGE, and Idaho Power DSP Phase 2 filings. The NW Energy Coalition has promoted DSP in OR since 2015 in order to include customer and community concerns in a process that has historically been purely technical. We thank our community partners for making a significant impact in the process.
As noted in previous updates, Rocky Mountain Power and Avista have both filed cases involving significant increases to the customer charge, arguing that cost causation and intraclass subsidies warrant 300%+ increases in charges. While both are proposals and have not been approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, the NW Energy Coalition maintains its position that high customer charges are incongruous with energy efficiency goals and low-income protection. At the same time, the Coalition is interested in having a long-term discussion about rate design in our changing energy landscape. Please stay tuned for more.
A last-minute settlement reached by some of the parties in the NorthWestern Energy rate case would raise rates 18% on the residential class if approved by the MT Public Service Commission. Large commercial customers would have no increase in rates. Under the agreement, NorthWestern would also be able to begin recovering costs for its yet to be built gas-fired Yellowstone Generating Station, including costs normally reserved for general rate cases (GRC) such as fixed O&M, prior to their next GRC. A federal judge ruled last week that the air quality permit for Yellowstone was illegally obtained for failure to consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Utility efforts to transition off fossil fuels are certainly helping move clean energy projects forward as state laws across the Northwest are requiring them to decarbonize. However, in a region that is already about 70% renewable energy based, customer demand will also be important to jumpstarting early action to drive new clean energy project investment.
In a recent blog post, the NW Energy Coalition outlines how government procurement (federal, state and Tribal governments) can catalyze a new wave of appropriately sited renewable energy and storage projects. A government-led green power procurement program, expedited by the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, can accelerate the regional clean energy technology market, create jobs, reduce emissions, and help address the region’s Tribal treaty responsibilities.
Why we work for the NW Energy Coalition
As we say goodbye to Amy Wheeless, our Senior Policy Associate for the past 5 years, we took some time to reflect on why we work at the NW Energy Coalition.
Amy Wheeless, former Senior Policy Associate
We are sad to announce that Amy Wheeless is leaving the Coalition after 5+ strong years of advocacy for clean, affordable, and equitable energy policy. We’re excited to see Amy bring her advocacy and project management skills to the Washington Department of Commerce. We are grateful for her work with the Coalition. Good luck, Amy!
Nancy Hirsh, Executive Director
For 27 years I have seen up close the power of coalition and collaboration. This plays out everyday through the depth of commitment of staff, member organizations, long-time allies, and the Board as they wrestle with complex and multi-faceted issues that are key to creating a clean, affordable and equitable energy future. Working with and learning from these folks keeps the work exciting and me thankful to have the opportunity.
Charlee Thompson, Policy Associate
My career in the climate space started in fifth grade when I voluntarily created pamphlets about climate change for my class. I grew up in awe of coral reefs, and have always wanted my work to be in the name of the intrinsic value of the ocean and environment. When an opportunity to work directly on climate and energy policy on a women-lead team in a region that leads national environmental policy arose, it was a no-brainer!
Fred Heutte, Senior Policy Associate
The electric grid is already the essential resource supporting our daily lives and our economy, and is only getting more important with the rising impacts of climate change. Working for the Coalition is important because since our founding we have endeavored to represent the forward-looking public interest so that the benefits of a more reliable, clean and affordable grid flow to everyone and equity underlies all of it.
Annabel Drayton, Senior Policy Associate
I work at the NW Energy Coalition because access to essential energy services is as important as making sure that energy is clean energy.
Chris Connolly, Communications & Events Coordinator
I work for the NW Energy Coalition because it gives me hope in the face of the climate crisis. Seeing brilliant people work their tails off towards decarbonizing our society motivates me to do my part to protect the people, places, and animals I love.
Give BIG kicks off 4/18!
GiveBig 2023 launches on Tuesday, April 18, with the main event happening on May 2 & 3! GiveBig is two days of state-wide online giving to your favorite nonprofits – including us! This year we want to raise $20,000 by May 3. Thanks to NWEC board members and donors, we have a match of $10,000! Every dollar raised will be matched up to $10,000.
Here’s your chance to help support the NW Energy Coalition’s work to advance clean, equitable, and affordable energy policies. Thanks to you, NWEC works hard every day to create a smarter and more resilient energy system that prioritizes energy efficiency, renewable energy, storage, clean fuels, transportation electrification, consumer protection, and salmon recovery. We hope you’ll support us with your gift during Give BIG.