Hundreds testify for clean energy and salmon provisions in 7th Northwest Power and Conservation Plan
But almost all of those testifying urged stronger provisions on salmon restoration, climate and replacing coal plants with new renewable energy – including distributed generation such as home-sited solar – rather than more natural gas.
Here’s a hearings recap. Thanks to Marc Heileson and Casey Matoon of the Sierra Club, Kyla Maki of the Montana Environmental Information Center, Tom Stuart of Idaho Rivers United, Ken Miller of the Snake River Alliance for helping to compile these reports. Thanks also to their organizations and the other Coalition member groups and allies who’ve been crucial in generating turnout and testimony at these critical events.
Montana’s Pat Smith was the only Council member present (the state’s other Council member, Jennifer Anders, was ill). Smith received kudos for urging more inclusion of low-income families in energy efficiency programs.
Again, Pat Smith was the only Council member attending.
Council members Tom Karier and Phil Rockefeller of Washington and Bill Booth of Idaho were present.
Speakers included former Save Our wild Salmon director Pat Ford, fisheries biologist Bert Bowler, Idaho Rivers United’s Kevin Lewis and Tom Stuart, Justin Hayes of the Idaho Conservation League, and Sierra Club’s Edwina Allen (who received the Coalition’s Doug Still Memorial Community Organizing Award at our Dec. 3 Awards Gala).
Sierra Club activists were out in force, along with Save Our wild Salmon supporters, Washington Environmental Council leaders, communities of color spokespersons and members of the faith community. Seattle City Light power management director Wayne Morter spoke in favor of using existing gas plants more but against building new ones. Renewable Northwest’s Kelly Hall highlighted errors in the Council’s analysis of higher renewable portfolio standards, with Climate Solutions’ Elizabeth Willmott noting the modeling flaws the led the Council to dis new renewables beyond existing state standards.
Northwest SEED’s Jaimes Valdez, who was a 4 Under Forty clean energy leaders honoree at the Coalition’s Dec. 3 Awards Gala, urged the Council to consider the benefits of a more customer-focused system that recognizes the increased resiliency that comes with distributed renewable energy resources. SOS executive director Joseph Bogaard assured the Council that our region can have both clean energy and abundant wild salmon, and cited the Coalition’s recent study on the affordability of replacing the power of the lower Snake River dams.
Coalition executive director Nancy Hirshspoke for the Coalition, hitting all the points noted above and warning against replacing the draft plan’s 4,500-average-megawatt energy efficiency target with a target range. Sierra Club’s Doug Howell pressed the point, casting the range concept as an invitation to gaming the system.
Events in Portland on Dec. 15 and Eugene the next night concluded the public hearings.
About 70 people attending the Portland hearing, and about 20 testified. Much of the testimony focused on climate change issues, including damage to human health. Many speakers called for moving the region beyond coal and gas.Cameron Yourkowski of Renewable Northwest asked the Council to do a low-carbon grid study to evaluate how renewables can meet system-wide capacity and energy needs. Coalition policy director Wendy Gerlitz criticized the Council’s analysis of a 35% renewable portfolio scenario, which simply overlays new renewables on top of increased gas-fired generation, needlessly boosting costs and continuing greenhouse gas emissions.
Michael Dean of the Public Power Council argued for a range on energy efficiency to give utilities greater flexibility. Gerlitz responded that the Council has historically and consistently underestimated energy efficiency savings in regional power plans.Eugene ending the hearing process. The window for written public comments closed on Dec. 18. The Council has tentatively scheduled approval of the final 7th Plan for its February 2016 meeting.