PSE, Mason, Lewis and Grays Harbor reach clean energy benchmarks

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Utilities meet I-937’s renewable energy standard

and surpass the law’s energy efficiency targets

Regional electricity providers from Puget Sound Energy to Grays Harbor County Public Utility District recorded impressive accomplishments over the first reporting period for Washington’s clean energy law, Initiative 937.

PSE, already noted for its energy-saving efforts, boosted its average two-year energy efficiency total by more than 45% compared to the previous six years. Mason and Grays Harbor PUDs beat their previous achievements more than five and nearly seven times over, respectively. Lewis County PUD achieved double its own savings target.
All four utilities reported enough eligible wind, solar or biomass power to meet I-937’s initial renewables standard.

“These utilities should be commended for their energy efficiency achievements, which will save money for their customers,” said Nancy Hirsh, policy director for the NW Energy Coalition, a primary sponsor of the clean energy law. “All four utilities have invested in wind and other projects located in Washington, ensuring clean and affordable energy for their customers and economic development benefits for the state.”

Passed by popular vote in 2006, I-937 says the state’s large utilities should secure all achievable, cost-effective energy efficiency, thus reducing their customers’ bills. It also begins a gradual ramp-up of eligible renewable resources in utilities’ energy mix, finishing at 15% in 2020 and each year thereafter.

The first I-937 check-in covers the biennial 2010-through-2011 period for energy efficiency and utilities’ reports for how they’ll get 3% of their power from eligible renewables this year. All 17 covered utilities submitted their efficiency achievements and renewables reports to state agencies this June.

Here’s what area utilities reported about their energy efficiencysavings:

♦ Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, captured more energy savings for its customers than any other utility. Perhaps more notably, PSE tied for second place among I-937 utilities in terms of the percentage of energy efficiency in its mix of resources used to serve customers’ needs.
An average megawatt (aMW) of electricity represents the annual power needs of about 700 Northwest homes. Thus PSE’s 2010-11 savings of 72.6 aMW is enough to supply the annual power needs of more than 50,000 homes. The savings total works out to a 45.2% increase from the 50 aMW it averaged over the previous three bienniums.

PSE expects to capture even more total savings – further reducing its customers’ bills – in 2012-13.

♦ Grays Harbor PUD had been getting 0.4 aMW of biennial energy savings. In 2010-11, the first compliance period for I-937’s efficiency standard, the PUD and its customers achieved nearly seven times that amount, 2.7 aMW, beating its own target by nearly 60%. Its savings are enough to power nearly 1,900 homes.

♦ Mason County PUD secured 1.6 aMW of energy efficiency in 2010-11 — five times the amount of energy savings it had averaged in the previous three bienniums and more than double the savings target it had set for itself. The PUD and its customers saved enough electricity to power more than 1,100 homes.

♦ Lewis County PUD averaged 0.5 aMW of biennial savings from 2004 through 2009. It achieved 2.8 aMW in 2010-11, twice its target and 5½ times its previous average. Its savings are enough to power more than 1,900 homes in the cheapest and cleanest way possible. The PUD has set a target of 1.7 aMW for the next biennium.

All four utilities are meeting from 1-1.5% of their customers’ electricity needs with energy efficiency.

Here’s how these utilities say they’ll meet the renewable standard:

♦ PSE says it can generate more than enough eligible renewable energy, primarily from its array of wind projects, to meet its 2012 requirement of 72.6 aMW. Its compliance total may include some extra credit that the law provides for using apprentice labor during construction of eligible renewable energy projects.

♦ Grays Harbor PUD reports it has more than enough eligible renewables to meet its I-937 renewables standard of 3.2 aMW for 2012, including 6.4 aMW of biomass from Sierra Pacific Industries and 7 aMW of wind from Nine Canyon near Kennewick and the Coastal Energy Project in Tokeland.

♦ Mason County PUD says it will use 2.3 aMW of wind power, primarily from White Creek Wind in Klickitat County and Nine Canyon, as well as some solar power to meet its I-937 renewables standard for 2012.

♦ Lewis County PUD says it will slightly exceed its 3% requirement (3.2 aMW) with its power purchases from the White Creek Wind Project.

I-937’s renewable standard has convinced developers to keep investing in Washington. The state has enjoyed more than $8 billion in new renewable investments over the last 10 years, creating more than 5,000 construction and 2,200 permanent jobs, $85 million of new revenue to cover local services and lease payments of thousands of dollars a year per turbine to property owners hosting wind farms.

Utilities may sell off excess renewable generation or credits until needed to meet the 9% renewables standard in 2016.

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