July 2023 Newsletter – New staff, OR legislative session, Clean & Affordable Energy Conference

NW Energy Map 2.0


New staff members join the NW Energy Coalition!

Alma Pinto, Energy Justice Policy Associate

Alma joined the Coalition in July 2023 as an Energy Justice Policy Associate. Prior to her role at the coalition, she worked at Community Energy Project, where she advocated for frontline communities at the Oregon state legislature, local government, and Oregon Public Utility Commission spaces to advance energy justice, climate justice, and housing equity. She also interned with Energy Trust of Oregon and the Metro Regional Government, and spent three years doing community organizing and research for a bi-national non-profit in South Texas dedicated to environmental justice. Alma holds a BS in Energy and Sustainability Policy from Penn State, and is passionate about equitable climate solutions and working towards a just and clean energy transition. 

During her free time, she enjoys curating playlists and DJing, brushing up her viola playing, exploring Portland on her bike, and trying out new recipes and restaurants!

Matt Joyce, Communications & Events Coordinator

Matt will join the Coalition in August 2023 as the Communications & Events Coordinator. Previously he worked as an Associate at RenewComm, a renewable-focused PR and marketing firm based in DC. He has also worked as an Installation Supervisor at GRID Alternatives, a clean energy nonprofit based in Oakland, CA. Matt is currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Administration at the University of Washington with particular interest in equitable climate policy. He holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Psychology from the University of North Carolina Asheville.

In his spare time, Matt enjoys paddle boarding, playing beach volleyball, noodling on his guitar, rock climbing, and taking his cat Cashew to the park.

Chris Connolly, Policy Associate

Chris Connolly, our previous Communications and Events Coordinator, has transitioned to a Policy Associate role as of mid-June. Chris will be taking over Amy Wheeless’s portfolio, focusing on energy efficiency, demand-side resources, and gas utility decarbonization.

Ben Otto, Contractor

We’re excited to announce the addition of Ben Otto to the Coalition team as a part-time contractor. Ben will be working on markets and transmission in Montana and Idaho.

Clean & Affordable Energy Conference

Join us on December 6 in Portland for our first in-person conference since 2019! Network with peers in the clean energy community, hear from expert panelists and keynote speakers, and stick around for our Clean Energy Awards reception. Panelists will discuss how utility planning should change to deliver equitable and affordable outcomes, the role of energy efficiency and distributed energy resources for vulnerable populations, and how the Bonneville Power Administration needs to modernize to drive forward the clean energy transition.  

In the States, on the Ground


The Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) recently extended the comment period for a decarbonization dashboard, part of the two-year long future of gas docket, U-210553. The UTC contracted with Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG) to model scenarios for decarbonizing the electric and gas sectors and support public engagement throughout the process. After a long and flawed engagement process, SSG released a draft decarbonization dashboard that does not clearly show assumptions or methodology, and is difficult to use. NWEC, Climate Solutions, and Washington Conservation Action requested a comment extension and an advisory group webinar to answer questions about the dashboard. The UTC granted the request. The advisory group webinar will be recorded and added to the Commission website and comments on the dashboard are now due by 5pm on July 31.


The Oregon Legislative session adjourned on Sunday, June 25th. Despite a 43-day walkout by Senate Republicans, 2023 ended up being a fairly successful legislative session. Energy issues were not expected to play a big role (we’re still working on implementing all the big policies we passed in 2021) but some important steps were taken in energy and climate policy. Read the blog to learn more about the victories.


Idaho Power has filed its first general rate case since 2011. The request includes an increase in revenue of 10.78% and 11.44% from the residential and small commercial classes, respectively. For residential, this means an increase of $11.61 for the average customer using 950 kwh/month. Following in the footsteps of the requests made by the two other investor-owned utilities in the state (Avista and Rocky Mountain Power), Idaho Power is requesting an increase in the customer charge from $5.00/month to $35.00/month over three years. As we’ve noted before, increases in customer charges significantly decrease the monetary value of energy efficiency and distributed generation.


With the passage of HB 220 in the 2023 legislative session, Montana has created a temporary Special Select Committee on Energy Resource Planning and Acquisition. Despite the updates to the resource planning rules at the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC), HB 220 politicizes resource planning and allows for participation by only one public interest representative. Fortunately, Renewable Northwest’s Robin Arnold, who previously worked on staff at the Montana PSC, has been confirmed as that representative. The Committee will meet throughout the interim and must file a final report with the Governor’s office prior to the 2025 legislative session. The first meeting will be held on August 2nd. You can find the agenda here.

In August, the Montana PSC will begin a series of public hearings on NorthWestern Energy’s recently filed Integrated Resource Plan, traveling to various locales throughout the service territory. We expect the release of the public hearing schedule soon.


NEEA Draft Strategic & Business Plans

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s 2025-2029 Draft Strategic and Business Plans are now open for public comment. The comment period is open through August 4 and NEEA will be hosting an overview webinar on August 1 from 10-11:30am PT. Learn more and register for the webinar here.

Bonneville Power Administration & Markets

It’s crunch-time for key stakeholders in the West to make decisions about which of two electricity markets they plan to join: Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) Markets+ or California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) Extended Day-Ahead Market (EDAM).

One of the most important stakeholders, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), is currently hosting a public review process from July 2023 to March 2024 to determine its participation in either of the day-ahead market offerings. This process is an opportunity for a regional leader to acknowledge the importance of, and bring the region together towards, a single, unified western market.

2023 NW Renewable Hydrogen Conference

The Renewable Hydrogen Alliance is hosting the Northwest Renewable Hydrogen Conference on September 19, 2023, in Portland, Oregon. Held at the DoubleTree Hilton, this event will cover various topics relating to the development and advancement of the renewable hydrogen industry in the Northwest. Sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees are invited to an evening networking reception. An RHA Membership Meeting will follow on September 20th.  

Refreshing Summer Drinks & Food

With summer heat upon us, staff share their favorite drinks and food to cool off on a steamy day.

Alma Pinto, Energy Justice Policy Associate

Agua fresca de jamaica con fresas y limón

(hibiscus iced tea with strawberries and lime)


  • 2 cups hibiscus (the whole dried flower, you can for sure find it at most Mexican grocery stores)
  • 15 strawberries
  • The juice of 1 juicy lime
  • 2 cups sugar or agave nectar
  • 12 cups of water (divided)


  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add 2 cups of sugar to the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add 2 cups of hibiscus flowers to the sugar water and let it steep for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, strain the hibiscus flowers into a large jar.
  5. Add 2 cups of water to the jar with the strained hibiscus water.
  6. Blend 15 strawberries with 4 cups of water until smooth.
  7. Strain the blended strawberry water into the jar with the hibiscus water.
  8. Mix the contents of the jar well.
  9. Add the juice of 1 lime to the mixture.
  10. Taste the drink and adjust sweetness by adding more sugar or diluting with water if desired.
  11. Refrigerate the beverage for at least 1 hour and add ice once ready to serve.

Charlee Thompson, Policy Associate

My refreshing drink/snack for hot days is shave ice! (Not shaveice! I’m oddly picky about that. 😝) Bonus points if it has vanilla ice cream on the bottom and mochi on the side! Yum.

Nancy Hirsh, Executive Director

On a warm weekend evening a cold gin and tonic hits the spot. Lots of crushed ice, lime and mint make it very refreshing. 

Lauren McCloy, Policy Director

I love shrubs! People have different definitions of what a shrub is, but my shrubs are basically mocktails made with any vinegar-based fruit-infused syrup and sparkling water served with ice. My current favorite is made with white peach balsamic vinegar. If I’m feeling fancy, I throw some mint and muddled berries in there from the garden.

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