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NW Council finds Pacific Northwest power supply not adequate for 2027 needs

In its Pacific Northwest Power Supply Adequacy Assessment for 2027, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council found that power supply in the region in 2027 would not be adequate relying solely on existing resources.

In its Pacific Northwest Power Supply Adequacy Assessment for 2027, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council found that power supply in the region in 2027 would not be adequate relying solely on existing resources.

The 2027 power supply would not be adequate if the region relied solely on existing resources and existing reserve levels, with no new energy efficiency measures. For power supply to be adequate, the region will need to develop new resources at least as aggressively as the 2021 Power Plan outlines.

If demand growth remains consistent with the plan’s baseline forecast, the power supply would be adequate with resources and reserves identified in the 2021 Power Plan’s resource strategy. However, if future electricity market supplies are significantly limited, new policy commitments to electrification accelerate demand growth, or major resources are retired earlier than expected without replacement, additional resources and reserves will be required to maintain system adequacy, as detailed in the 2021 Power Plan.

The 2021 Power Plan’s resource strategy recommends that 750 to 1,000 average MW of energy efficiency, at least 3,500 MW of renewable resources, and 720 MW of demand response be acquired by 2027. The plan also highlighted the importance and need for achieving the increasing reserves requirement to respond to the growing short-term uncertainty in generation from significant additions of variable energy resources (primarily solar and wind). The resource strategy was tested under a range of potential future conditions. Like the plan, this assessment confirms that an adaptive approach is required to maintain adequacy, from the perspective of ensuring that the full suite of adequacy metrics remains within their provisional thresholds.

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This assessment finds that the 2021 Power Plan resource strategy is effective at eliminating nearly all summer shortfalls, when resource needs peak in the rest of the Western grid. Implementing the strategy does not eliminate winter shortfall events but does mitigate them by reducing event magnitude and shortening event duration to only a few hours during the morning and evening ramps.

New clean energy policies will result in significant renewable generation built throughout the west, both within and outside the region. This projected renewable resource acquisition changes market supply and demand dynamics because the hourly pattern of renewable generation does not always coincide with the hourly pattern of the greatest energy need. This leads to periods during certain times of the day with a surplus of very inexpensive market supply (mostly solar).

During these periods, due to this increased market supply and the persistence of lower prices, the Northwest is expected to consistently import more power than it has in the past. However, there also will be times within the same day, often during morning and evening ramps, when available market supply is smaller and more expensive than in the past, providing an opportunity for the Northwest to export to other regions in the West. The ability of Northwest hydroelectric and thermal systems to ramp up and down to respond to those changing market dynamics requires appropriate market signals, either from a regional reserve pooling effort or from an enhanced market structure.

In light of these changing dynamics, this assessment considers a number of potential market uncertainties. The findings indicate that out-of-region market supply uncertainties have, for the most part, a minimal effect on regional adequacy, assuming NWPCC’s current market reliance limits. However, under certain future scenarios, results show regional adequacy levels becoming borderline or unacceptable. These scenarios include futures with high gas prices, continued supply chain challenges, increased demand (due to accelerated electrification without a supply and reserve increase), and lower-than-expected West-wide renewable generation acquisition.

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As in the plan, this assessment found risk factors to monitor when determining how to implement and adapt the resource strategy to the uncertainties the region faces. If regional planners observe increased demand due to accelerated electrification without an associated increase in resources and reserves, and/or resources of significant size are retired without replacement, the risk of adequacy issues increases significantly.

The plan analysis indicated that significantly larger builds of renewable resources and accompanying reserves would be required to maintain an adequate system. The resource strategy recommends that jurisdictions pursuing aggressive emissions reductions should evaluate adding more renewables to avoid these risks. The plan also recognized that additional energy efficiency would likely be cost-effective for those jurisdictions pursuing electrification policies.

If the region is ineffective at coupling the investment recommendations from the plan with a coordinated reserve pooling effort of sufficient size to match the increase in short-term uncertainty from load and generation, the region will be more susceptible to adequacy risk from the market.

The 1980 Northwest Power Act authorized Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington to develop a regional power plan and fish and wildlife program to balance the Northwest’s environment and energy needs. The council’s mission is to preserve the benefits of the Columbia River for future generations.

Originally published by Hydro Review

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