Recently in Resource Adequacy Category

Join GTH at the Washington Future Energy Conference

September 9, 2014

Please join us at the Washington Future Energy Conference on November 5. Gordon Thomas Honeywell is proud to be a major sponsor of this event. Now in its fifth year, the Future Energy Conference brings together energy innovators, utilities, scientists, investors, and many others to discuss the future of the energy industry in our state.

Speakers include GTH partner Eric Christensen, who will moderate a panel discussing the electrification of Washington's transportation system. The panel will include Steve Marshall of the Center for Advanced Transportation and Energy Solutions, Charles Knutson, Senior Policy Advisor to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and John McCoy, Legislative Director for the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association.

We look forward to seeing you November 5.

Beginning of the End for Colstrip? Washington UTC Rejects Puget Sound Energy's Analysis of Coal Plant Economics

February 7, 2014

The Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission ("UTC") yesterday rejected Puget Sound Energy's ("PSE") economic justification for continued operation of its Colstrip coal plant. The UTC's action, while not sealing the fate of Colstrip, sends PSE back to the drawing board and casts doubt on the future of the plant, which is already the subject of legal action brought by a coalition of environmental groups.

The UTC's findings were made in the context of PSE's 2013 Integrated Resource Plan. Under Washington law, the state's investor-owned utilities are required to develop and submit an Integrated Resource Plan to the UTC, which must be updated every two years. The Integrated Resource Plan is intended to analyze the alternatives available to meet the utility's anticipated load, and to identify the least-cost alternatives.

Continue reading "Beginning of the End for Colstrip? Washington UTC Rejects Puget Sound Energy's Analysis of Coal Plant Economics" »

Binz There, Done That? Obama FERC Nominee Likely to Stay The Course on Renewables, But Changes in Regulatory Policy May Be In the Offing

July 2, 2013

On June 27, President Obama nominated Ron Binz to replace Jon Wellinghoff as Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC"). Mr. Binz's track record as Chair of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission suggests that his priorities will be very similar to Chairman Wellinghoff's. That is, we can expect FERC will continue to pursue policies favoring the deployment and integration of renewable energy resources and the construction of high-voltage transmission facilities to support delivery of utility-scale renewables. Mr. Binz's more recent experience as an industry consultant suggests, in addition, that he may focus on the fundamentals of the regulatory system and how the regulatory system can be rationalized in the face of rapid technological change in the industry.

Mr. Binz is a long-time energy industry professional, but it is likely that the policies he advocated during his four-year tenure as Chairman of the Colorado PUC will dominate the political headlines during his nomination process. In that capacity, he helped broker a compromise with Xcel Energy, Inc. to shutter coal-fired generation and promoted action on climate change, renewable portfolio standards, and other policies designed to promote renewable energy and transition away from traditional fossil sources. Given the Obama Administration's recent focus on climate change, and its long-time emphasis on promoting renewable energy, it is not surprising to see a FERC nominee with these priorities.

Continue reading "Binz There, Done That? Obama FERC Nominee Likely to Stay The Course on Renewables, But Changes in Regulatory Policy May Be In the Offing" »

Power Planning Council Suggests Need for 350 MW of New Generation by 2017

December 14, 2012

The most recent projections from the Northwest Power & Conservation Council ("NPCC") suggest that electric demand in the Pacific Northwest is finally recovering from effects of the Great Recession, and that new generation will be needed to meet peak needs by 2017. The NPCC's Northwest Resource Adequacy Forum, a committee of experts from utility planning staffs, state agencies and other interested parties, presented its most recent report at the NPCC's December meeting. The report predicts that the region will need to build 350 MW of new generation, after accounting for energy conservation, in order to meet peak demands in 2017.

The Resource Adequacy Forum uses a model which aims to keep the likelihood of an energy shortfall at 5 percent or less. The Forum now predicts that, without additional capacity, the likelihood of a shortage will grow to 6.25% by 2017. The largest driver, according to the Forum, is projected drop of 1,500 MW of capacity from California, with availability from California estimated to fall from 3,200 MW to 1,700 MW, primarily due to retirements of coastal water-cooled thermal plants. In addition, the Forum projects within-region demand, net of energy efficiency savings, will grow by about 300 MW from 2015 to 2017. The overall result is an unacceptably high risk for resource adequacy, especially for peaking power in the months of January, February, and August. The Forum did not analyze demand response programs, but suggested such programs might be one mechanism to reduce peak demands and bring supply projections back within acceptable limits.

The Forum's report also highlights the importance of both independent energy producers and the California market for the Pacific Northwest. The Forum notes that independent power producers now operate about 3,450 MW of generation capacity in the Northwest. The Forum assumes that much of this generation will be available to meet winter peaks, but in the summer, it is mostly committed to the California market.
Further, much of the uncertainty in the Forum's projections is attributable to uncertainties about the California market. For example, under an extreme scenario assuming high load growth and no resources from California, the risk of inadequacy jumps to 16.8% in 2017. On the other hand, with low load growth in the Northwest and no loss of generation availability from California, the probability of resource inadequacy falls to 3.2%.

If you have any questions about the NPCC report, energy development, or other utility-related matters, please contact a member of GTH's Energy, Telecommunications and Utilities practice group practice group. We have years of experience in energy regulation, the Northwest's energy industry, complex administrative matters, appellate litigation, and related fields and we are regularly recognized as one of the best energy and natural resources practices in both the region and the nation.