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February 22, 2008 (PST)

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is seeking public comments on a proposed standard for future electricity supplies that should serve as an early warning about the potential for future shortages in the Northwest.

The standard was developed over the last two and a half years by the Pacific Northwest Resource Adequacy Forum, a committee of electricity suppliers and regulators created by the Power Council and the Bonneville Power Administration.

"The standard will help ensure the Northwest continues to enjoy an adequate and reliable electricity supply," Council Chair Bill Booth said. "The standard will serve as a sort of early-warning system to assess whether the power supply is adequate in a physical sense. While compliance is not mandatory, the existence of a standard should not encourage complacency, either. For the long term, the question remains: How much new power generation should be built?"

The standard is published in a paper, A Resource Adequacy Standard for the Northwest, which is available on the Council's website, www.nwcouncil.org, as Document 2008-01. The comment deadline is Friday, March 7.

The proposed standard is based on an analytical assessment of the likelihood of a regional power failure. The regional standard includes two broad categories, one for regional energy and one for regional capacity. Under the standard, energy is the average electricity production over a year, and capacity is the maximum amount of power that can be produced during a during a multiple-hour period of high demand (such as a cold snap or heat wave).

The proposed standard for energy is that regional electricity generation matches the demand for power on an annual basis. The proposed standard for capacity is a measurement of excess available power during periods of highest demand. In winter, the proposed standard would be 23 percent above the anticipated peak, and in summer the reserve should be 24 percent.

The standard assumes that power supplied by independent producers in the Northwest could be sold to Northwest utilities -- that is, power not already committed to utilities outside the region. The Resource Adequacy Forum also made clear that the proposed standard is for the entire Northwest power supply, not necessarily for individual utilities within the region. Some currently have an electricity surplus and others do not.

The Council will vote to adopt the regional adequacy standard for its own power planning process at its next meeting in March. The Council believes the standard can provide useful information for utilities and public entities in the region that are in the process of planning for future electricity resources. The standard is also expected to be considered in West-wide adequacy assessments conducted by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council.

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 the fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin affected by hydropower dams while also assuring the region an adequate,

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