The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is taking public comments through Friday, Dec. 18, on its draft 7th Power Plan, which is the primary electricity power planning document in the four-state region that includes Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The Power Council consists of two members from each of the four Northwest states. The Council produces the regional power plan every five years, and held a public hearing to take comments in Boise in November. This is an important chance for your voice to be heard.According to the draft 7th Power Plan, the Northwest will meet an overwhelming portion of its projected new electricity demands through energy efficiency – the cheapest electricity resource available. Most of what efficiency doesn’t deliver will likely come from natural gas generation. The Council’s 6th Power Plan projected the region would meet 85 percent of its new “load growth” through energy efficiency, and the region surpassed that goal. The draft 7th Plan says it may be possible to meet all new electricity demands through 2035 with cost-effective energy efficiency.
The Plan will help states meet their renewable energy goals, with the exception of Idaho, which has no renewable energy goals. It will also help meet summer and winter “peaking” needs with “demand response” program such as Idaho Power’s residential air-conditioning cycling program, which briefly interrupts A.C. operations to ease demand pressure on the grid. The Plan should also enable the Northwest region to meet new Environmental Protection Agency emission reduction targets from existing coal plants even during times of critical water conditions.