The Northwest has an
adequate supply of electricity to avoid severe power outages
for the next five years, according to an analysis by the
Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
At the same time,
however, the analysis urges electric utilities to continue to
plan for new power-generating resources and energy
conservation in order to minimize exposure to potentially
high-cost wholesale power and to meet state-mandated renewable
"The Northwest is in good shape for the next five years,
but as demand for power grows, our cushion to meet periods of
high demand shrinks," Council Chair Bill Booth said. "This
does not mean we will run out of power, but it is an issue
that the region's utilities will have to address as they plan
for the future."
The Council reports annually on the adequacy of the
region's power supply, looking three years and five years into
the future. The 2008 analysis, which the Council discussed
this week at a meeting in Astoria, Oregon, predicts a very low
likelihood for a severe curtailment to service over the next
five years, based on existing supplies. It also notes,
however, that by 2013 the amount of surplus power reserves
shrinks because of predicted increases in demand for power,
especially during summer months.
The Council's annual analyses are intended as an
early-warning system should power resource development fall
dangerously short. The current analysis suggests that a higher
threshold of power resource development is desirable to offset
exposure to high-priced market supplies in the future.
However, the analysis makes no assessment of how many or
what types of new resources should be built or acquired in
order to 1) minimize exposure to potentially high-cost
wholesale power if demand increases and supply decreases, 2)
fulfill state-mandated renewable resource requirements, or 3)
address individual utility needs. Those issues will be
addressed in the Council's Sixth Northwest Power Plan. The
Council revises its power plan every five years, and the next
revision -- the Council's sixth power plan -- is scheduled for
completion in 2009.
The Council's analyses are based on a power resource
adequacy standard that was adopted by the Council last April.
The standard was developed over a two-and-a-half-year period
by the Resource Adequacy Forum, a consortium of utilities, the
Council, Bonneville Power Administration, and state utility
regulatory agencies. It will be used by the Council in its
long-range power planning. Utilities are also using the
analysis and data derived from the standard in their own
resource planning processes.
The 2008 analysis is posted on the Council's website at
The Council is an agency of the states of Idaho, Montana,
Oregon and Washington and is directed by the Northwest Power
Act of 1980 to prepare a program to protect, mitigate, and
enhance fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin affected
by hydropower dams while also assuring the region an adequate,
efficient, economical and reliable power supply.