Coalition offers initial ideas to strengthen 7th Plan’s energy efficiency provisions

Early results from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s 7th Power Plan analysis once again illustrate the tremendous value energy efficiency brings to our region. Council modeling across a range of possible futures consistently shows that energy efficiency can meet 100% of the region’s load growth for years to come. Some 1,300–1,450 average megawatts of cost-effective energy efficiency should be available over the next five years.

We will provide additional comments when the Council releases its draft language.

Our recommendations build upon our already robust regional energy efficiency efforts. We want the Bonneville Power Administration, individual utilities and the region as a whole to capture all the cost-saving efficiency measures available, to identify and incorporate new efficiency technologies and to fully value conservation’s role in meeting power demand at the lowest possible price.

In particular:

• We join Council staff in calling on the BPA to calculate and consider the financial benefits and not just the costs of energy efficiency investments. Such benefits include additional income from selling surplus power and/or reduced expenses from buying less power.
• BPA should set its energy efficiency budget to meet the 7th Plan’s high-case rather than mid-level success target. That way, the region can benefit from all cost-saving conservation opportunities. Any leftover funds can go back to BPA customer utilities or be carried over the next budget period.
• The Council should place more emphasis on new/emerging efficiency technologies to aid in their commercialization and better estimate future achievements and cost declines.
• In conjunction with BPA and utilities, the Council should update datasets that calculate conservation measures’ hourly contributions to satisfy total power demand. That way we can identify the cheapest ways to meet peak needs (“capacity”).
• Utilities should factor the capacity value of their energy efficiency measures – how they help meet peak demand – into their planning processes. That will save them from purchasing or generating more expensive and likely dirtier power they really don’t need.
• BPA should be able to assess a surcharge on self-funding utilities that fail to achieve their assigned savings goals. Such a surcharge, authorized in the Northwest Power Act, would cover BPA’s costs of securing the savings should the utility fail to do so.

Other Coalition recommendations include developing a strategy for achieving residential and commercial zero-energy buildings (ZEBs), and factoring the values of health and other non-energy benefits from home weatherization and other conservation measures into efficiency investment decisions. We submitted a set of low-income energy efficiency recommendations last mont.

For more information, contact Coalition policy director Wendy Gerlitz at