Coalition comments highlight strengths, weaknesses of draft 7th Power Plan

On Dec. 18, the NW Energy Coalition submitted its written comments on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s draft 7th regional plan which, when finalized, will inform resource decisions by Northwest electric utilities for the next 20 years – especially in the initial five- to six-year action plan period.

As in its oral testimony at public hearings held throughout the region, the Coalition’s written comments reflect strong support for the draft’s reliance on energy efficiency to meet almost all new power demand. It also supports aggressive demand response programs – with specific targets — to make the power system more efficient by lowering electricity use during periods of peak demand.

However, the comments also reflect disappointment in the draft plan’s treatment of new renewable energy. Ultimately, renewable energy rather than post-2025 investments in new natural gas plants will contribute the most to our clean energy future.

The NW Energy Coalition also recommends deeper cuts in coal-fired power, along with Council acknowledgement that Northwest residents use and pay for power generated in nominally “out-of-region” coal plants not included in the plan. In addition, the Coalition urges more attention to evolving “grid edge” technologies and systems, and calls for an objective assessment of the costs and cost savings from removing the four lower Snake River dams to help recover wild salmon stocks endangered by Northwest hydropower dams.

With the public input period completed, the Council will now work to incorporate comments and approve the final 7th Plan as early as February 2016.

Coalition staff have been deeply involved in influencing development of the 7th Northwest Power and Conservation Plan, as we have in its six predecessors. Coalition allies and members throughout the region have submitted comments and driven attendance and testimony at public hearings in all four states.

Read the NW Energy Coalition’s written comments here.

See our summary of the public hearings here and the Council’s official transcripts here.

For more information, contact NW Energy Coalition policy director Wendy Gerlitz at we***@nw******.org