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Commentaries and editorials

Dispatchable Electricity

by Rick Paschall
Peninsula Daily News, June 21, 2020

Map: The Draft EIS of the Columbia River System Operations released in March 2020, included this graphic in Appendix H revealing widespread electric retail rate decreases through most of the Northwest. Flip a switch and the light comes on, all because you flipped a switch, all because of electricity.

Electricity powers conveniences, necessities and everything in between. The electric-utility industry has to instantaneously adjust power generation to almost exactly match instantaneous-power consumption.

Think about that. The U.S. has over 300 million residents, and almost each and every one of them can flip a switch at their whim and an energy-consuming machine comes to life -- which means it begins to consume power and somewhere almost instantaneously a generator has to react. Yet miraculously the lights stay on and everyone has power most of the time.

Recently Washington voters voted to remove thermal generation from the generating-resource stack.

Now some folks are advocating for the removal of a number of hydro-generating dams on the lower Snake River. I believe hydro-generated power is renewable, instantly dispatchable, essential for uninterrupted power generation, and a relatively inexpensive power source which meets our instantaneous power needs.

I am writing this letter because I am concerned that the reliability of our power system may be put at risk if we continue removing dispatchable-generating resources from the regional-resource stack. Solar, wind, and other renewable-generating resources are great additions to the regional-resource stack. But these resources only generate if the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.

So before the region considers removing more resources, such as dams, ask yourself if it would be OK if the lights did not come on when you flipped the switch.

Related Sites:
Public Power Council Expels Clallam PUD by Rob Ollikainen, Sequim Gazette, 6/10/20
'I Want Salmon Back in Idaho.' Simpson Seeks Bold Action After $16 Billion Spent on Recovery by Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman, 4/23/19

Rick Paschall, Port Angeles
Public Power Council Expels Clallam PUD
Peninsula Daily News, June 21, 2020

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