Starting next week, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council will be holding on-line public hearings in each of the four Northwest states on the draft 2021 Northwest Power Plan released by the Council last week.
The Draft 2021 Power Plan includes the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program and 2020 Addendum. Both the power plan and fish and wildlife program account for dam operations intended to protect fish and wildlife affected by hydropower dams.
“As more renewables are added to the power system, this affects when hydropower can be generated. The Columbia River hydropower system can be used to help integrate additional renewable resources into the regional power supply and ensure it remains adequate and reliable. But as the system increasingly is used in this way, it will be important to understand the potential impacts of operational changes at the dams, where there are legal constraints to assist fish passage,” says a summary of the plan.
“Increasing our dependence on sunshine and wind to make electricity has risks – primarily the risk of reduced output when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing. Maintaining an adequate and reliable power supply will be challenging. This is a fundamental uncertainty the Council faced in developing the Draft 2021 Power Plan,” says the summary.
“Electricity imports from outside the region, particularly solar power from California, will be important to the future Northwest power supply. Solar and wind power have become so inexpensive that they are beating practically every other type of power in the wholesale market, making many inefficient thermal plants uneconomical to operate. The Council recognizes that the transition to an increasingly clean and low-cost power supply can’t happen so fast that reliability and adequacy are diminished, so the draft plan recognizes existing thermal plants – coal, natural gas, nuclear – as an important component of the power supply.”
The Northwest Power Act requires the Council to conduct at least one public hearing in each of the four Northwest states represented on the Council when accepting public comments on a draft power plan or fish and wildlife program. In order to protect public health during the pandemic, the Council has decided not to conduct in-person hearings. Instead, each of the states will host an online hearing, and persons are encouraged to attend their state’s hearing. However, people who live outside the host state are welcome to attend the hearings and testify.
The power plan guides decisions of the Bonneville Power Administration regarding how to meet future demand for electricity on behalf of its utility customers. The plan looks 20 years into the future, forecasts demand for power, and recommends least-cost, reliable generating and energy-efficiency resources to meet the anticipated demand.
Sign up to participate in one of the following hearings:
— CBB, August 26, 2021, COUNCIL APPROVES RELEASE OF DRAFT POWER PLAN LOOKING 20 YEARS INTO FUTURE FOR NORTHWEST ELECTRICITY SYSTEM https://www.cbbulletin.com/council-approves-release-of-draft-power-plan-looking-20-years-into-future-for-northwest-electricity-system/
— CBB, Feb. 12, 2016, COUNCIL ADOPTS SEVENTH POWER PLAN: ENERGY EFFICIENCY LEAD RESOURCE OVER 20 YEARS https://www.cbbulletin.com/council-adopts-seventh-power-plan-energy-efficiency-lead-resource-over-20-years/
— CBB, Oct. 16, 2010, NEW POWER PLAN SAYS 85 PERCENT OF ELECTRICITY DEMAND NEXT 20 YEARS CAN BE MET WITH EFFICIENCY https://www.cbbulletin.com/new-power-plan-says-85-percent-of-electricity-demand-next-20-years-can-be-met-with-efficiency/