Energy Matters Update – March 16, 2010

Moving the region toward a Bright Future:

The new Sixth Northwest Power and Conservation Plan

Vol.7, No.1

Every five years the region’s official power planning agency, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, produces a new 20-year forecast of growing electricity needs and a prescription for meeting them.  The recently approved Sixth Northwest Power and Conservation Plan charts an aggressive clean energy path for our region’s future.

Reflecting the dedicated efforts of clean-energy advocates throughout the region, the Power and Conservation Plan confirms that our region has more than enough inexpensive energy efficiency and renewable energy available to meet virtually all new electricity needs over the next 20 years.

The final plan passed by Council members – two governor appointees each from Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state – calls for meeting 85% of new needs with energy efficiency and almost all the rest with new renewable energy.  The plan calls for building no new coal plants and will not increase in our regional electric system’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Comprehensive analysis by the Council shows that realizing the Sixth Plan’s lofty energy efficiency goals will reduce utility bills and create nearly 50,000 jobs.

Prior to the final plan’s approval, hundreds rallied and testified at public hearings around the region.  Clean energy activists applauded the Council’s commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy, and urged the Council to call for closing coal plants to actually reduce the power system’s global-warming emissions. Activists also called for fair and equal treatment of salmon and steelhead species.

In response, the Council included two critical studies in the plan that show the region can affordably revive wild salmon in the Columbia River basin and retire the region’s coal plants.  It found that after meeting growing electrical demand with energy efficiency and renewable energy, after slashing coal use and replacing power from the four lower Snake River dams, customers’ bills still would go down.  While the Council chose not to include those actions in the final Sixth Plan recommendations, its studies show we can achieve a clean, affordable, fish-friendly and climate-friendly energy future.

It’s time for the region’s utilities, decision-makers and consumers to embrace the Sixth Plan and its critical supporting studies. We urge clean energy activist to continue their vigilance and work to realize the Sixth Plan’s efficiency and renewable energy targets.

Additional Information:

Summary and full text of the 6th Plan on the NPCC Web site
The Coalition’s 6th Plan Page
NW Energy Coalition Summary of the 6th Plan
Coalition Director Sara Patton’s 6th Plan Opinion Piece
Bright Future report
Previous Energy Matters Updates

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