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Council Says Northwest Has Adequate Electricity Supply For Next Five Years

September 19, 2008 Columbia Basin Bulletin
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 resource requirements.

"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 this location:


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.

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