Retiring Coal Plants Likely Means NW Will Need
According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's assessment of the Pacific Northwest's power supply, the region should have an adequate supply through 2020, although the planned retirements of four coal plants by 2022 means that the region will have to acquire nearly 1,400 megawatts of new capacity to lower the chance of a shortfall.
The Council assesses the adequacy of the region's power supply each year to alert the region if development fails to keeps pace with growing demand. The standard deems the power supply to be inadequate if the likelihood of a shortfall is higher than 5 percent. With the coal plant retirements, the chance of a shortfall grows to 13 percent by 2021.
As the Northwest, like other parts of the country, moves to lower its reliance on coal plant generation, planning to address the loss of that power has been underway. The Council's assessment assumes that the energy efficiency targets identified in its Seventh Power Plan will be met and concludes that it is imperative that cost-effective energy efficiency programs continue to be aggressively implemented.
Northwest utilities have been working to develop replacement strategies and have reported about 550 megawatts of planned generating capacity for 2021, with additional resources likely to include energy efficiency, demand response or new generating resources.
The Council will be closely monitoring progress to maintain the system's adequacy and will reassess the power supply next year.
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