October 2023 Newsletter – New staff at NWEC, Bill Discount Rate programs, and the West-Wide Governance Pathways Initiative 

NW Energy Map 2.0


New Staff and Keynote Speakers at our conference!

Welcome our new staff members to the Coalition! 

Will Gehrke, Senior Technical Analyst

William joined the Coalition in October 2023. Prior to joining the Coalition, he has worked for Oregon’s residential utility consumer advocate and the Florida Public Service Commission on a wide variety of energy issues. He has a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in Economics from Florida State University. During his free time, he enjoys camping, horticulture and cycling. 

Alessandra de la Torre, Policy Associate 

Alessandra will join the coalition in November 2023 as a policy associate after working with Rogue Climate advocating for energy justice and for community resilience. Over the past six years, she has led campaigns, organizing, and implementation in the Oregon Public Utility Commission, in the Oregon State Legislature, and in communities across Oregon, including for these campaigns: Community Resilience Hubs, Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity, Driver’s Licenses for All, and Keeping Oregon’s Sanctuary State Law. She previously served on Oregon’s Wildfire Programs Advisory Council as the environmental justice representative and has a B.S. in Sociology from Southern Oregon University. 

If there’s flowers around, Alessandra is smelling and admiring them. One of her favorites are dahlias. You can also find her hanging out with her dog, dancing and making fun memories with loved ones in the Rogue Valley, SF Bay Area, Mexico, and beyond. 

Keynote speakers at our Clean & Affordable Energy Conference! 

We’re excited to announce the keynote speakers at our upcoming Clean & Affordable Energy Conference on December 6 in Portland. We hope to see you there! 

Kate Lieber, Majority Leader, Oregon State Senate 

Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (she/her) represents Senate District 14, which includes Beaverton and SW Portland. Senator Lieber is a mother of two, a breast cancer survivor, a former community college instructor, and an attorney. As a State Senator and the Senate Majority Leader, she continues to work to ensure the state government is solving the most pressing problems facing Oregonians, from the homelessness crisis and community safety to wildfires and rising prices. 

Rich Glick, Principal, GQ New Energy Strategies 

Rich is a Principal with GQ New Energy Strategies – a consulting firm he co-founded with Pamela Quinlan.  He recently completed a five-year term as a Commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) where he chaired the Commission for two years. As Chairman, Rich initiated several key initiatives, including proposals to reform the planning and cost allocation process for electric transmission; expedite and enhance the generator interconnection process; improve the operation of organized electric capacity markets; and protect the reliability of the electric grid against weather-related, cybersecurity, and physical attack threats.  

In the States, on the Ground


Bill Discount Rate programs 

Three new Bill Discount Rate programs went live this month in Washington for customers of Avista, Puget Sound Energy, and Cascade Natural Gas. Importantly, customers can self-declare their income and household size to apply, removing a longstanding and historic barrier to accessing bill assistance. Utilities may randomly select a small percentage of monthly applicants for income verification to ensure that only qualified customers are enrolled and that the appropriate benefit is provided to these customers. These programs are jointly administered with each utility’s local Community Action Agency, who can also help connect participants with additional resources they qualify for. See if you qualify! 

Draft Transportation Electrification Strategy 

The Washington EV Council’s draft Transportation Electrification Strategy (TES) is open for public comment until October 30th. The TES will serve as a roadmap to support widespread adoption of electric vehicles across Washington. This is one of the largest transportation transitions ever implemented in Washington, so the TES includes strategies for infrastructure, community access and affordability, various modes or types of transportation, and equitable outcomes.  

To aid in your review, the Coalition has summarized key policies that may be of interest to our members and ally organizations. Your feedback will help inform the final policy recommendations submitted as a part of the final TES to the Washington State Legislature by December 31st, 2023. 

Attribution: Jessica Plumb


The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) released their draft 2024 Budget and 2024-2025 Action Plan this month. ETO plans to invest over $304 million in utility customer funds, a sizable increase of 35% from the previous year. This includes over $159 million in incentives via technical assistance, cash incentives, trade and community partnerships, and programs for all types of utility customers. Over two thirds of the budget expenditure, or $210.9 million, is earmarked for energy efficiency, with particular focus on lowering energy bills for customers with high energy burdens

The public comment period has ended, but you can tune into ETO’s presentation to the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) on the draft Budget and Action Plan in a public, virtual meeting on November 2nd at 9:30am. After reviewing public comments next month, ETO will present a final proposed budget to their board of directors in a public, virtual meeting on December 15th 10am – 4pm. The Coalition strongly supports the direction the budget is going, particularly on energy efficiency, customer-side resources, and equity-centered programs. 


Idaho Power Company (IPC) submitted its 600-page 2023 draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) at the end of September. IPC lays out a 20-year plan to optimize demand and supply-side resources to meet the projected load growth of its customers. IPC’s Preferred Portfolio is a mix of clean energy, customer-focused programs, new transmission lines, and converting coal plants to gas power. The utility plans to add 6.58 GW of new solar, wind and energy storage resources. They plan to continue expanding customer-focused energy efficiency and demand response programs. To access growing energy markets in the west, Idaho Power will build the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission line and may join in the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) line in the next two years. Despite the Company’s 100% clean energy goal, they plan to join in the conversion of two coal plants to gas power. The Idaho and Oregon Utility Commissions will be reviewing Idaho Power’s IRP this fall. Stay connected with NWEC to learn how to engage more. 


The Montana legislature held its quarterly Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee (ETIC) Meeting, which included presentations on regional markets from Southwest Power Pool (SPP), California Independent System Operator Energy Imbalance Market (CAISO EIM), Western Resource Adequacy Program (WRAP), Basin Electric, and NorthWestern Energy (NWE). The presenters described the benefits of a more connected Western market in response to lingering concerns that organized markets could lead to bad outcomes for Montana.  

The day before was the second Select Committee on Energy Resource Planning and Acquisition (SCERPA) meeting. SCERPA was formed through HB 220 in 2023 to identify potential issues within the energy resource planning, acquisition, and approval processes in the Montana Code Annotated. The group is made up mostly of legislators, along with public utility representatives, a consumer advocate and the Coalition as a public interest organization representative. Presentations relayed the difficulty and complexity around resource planning. The next meeting in January will focus on the resource acquisition process. 


As Western utilities increasingly look to access clean energy sources, many are exploring new energy market options to facilitate the sharing of resources across our diverse Western geography. This trend would align the West with most of the U.S. which is largely covered by regional energy markets. There are currently two dueling proposals to establish a broader Western market – the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO’s) Enhanced Day Ahead Market (EDAM) and Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP’s) Markets + proposal.  

To help resolve the potential dueling proposals, a group of western states, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, California, and New Mexico, proposed to explore a potential path forward for a west-wide fully organized market, an effort known as the West-Wide Governance Pathways Initiative (WWGPI). The Pathways Initiative also builds upon the successful Western Energy Imbalance Market (WEIM), with one key distinction. While the WEIM market is operated by CAISO, a potential selling point of the Pathways Initiative is that it would create a fully independent entity comprised of western states and stakeholders to take over the operation of the western energy markets.  

The Pathways Initiative is on a fast timeline. The group proposes to form a launch committee by the end of October, comprised of state officials, utilities, independent energy service providers, customers, and public interest groups, who will review the options for the mission, structure, and operation of this independent entity. The goal is to elect the founding board members by March 2024. 

The Coalition has long supported moving towards a single, unified Western market. Electricity markets can coordinate and optimize the electricity grid, creating a system that is more reliable, can transition to clean energy faster, and will have notable savings for customers. The Coalition will be tracking the Pathways Initiative closely as it becomes more defined over the coming months. You can read joint comments made last month by the Coalition and other public interest organizations here

New blog post!

In our latest blog post, we make the connection between increasingly volatile weather events and the need for customer-side resources to better manage the region’s load growth.

TRIPLE your impact this Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28  

Thanks to the NWEC Board and an anonymous donor, we have $2-to-$1 matching funds for all gifts made to NWEC on Giving Tuesday, November 28. Now your gift can go three times as far towards a clean, affordable, and equitable energy system for the Northwest. 

Halloween Celebration

In the spirit of Halloween, we asked staff to share their celebrations past and present.

Lauren McCloy, Policy Director

Ruby McCloy, Avocado (2022) 

Matt Joyce, Communications & Events Coordinator 

A Space Cowboy and Kangaroo walk into a bar.. 

Beth Brooks, Development Director 

The transition to Halloween is already underway! 

Nancy Hirsh, Executive Director 

The pumpkin line up at Nancy’s house.