Puget Sound Energy's (PSE) updated draft plan to meet customers' energy needs over the next 20 years stresses energy efficiency, additional transmission capacity and the acquisition of peak-demand power resources.
The draft 2011 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) emphasizes flexibility to respond to evolving markets and least-cost criteria for obtaining new electric supply. The major challenge facing PSE, according to the draft plan, is meeting its customers' peak hourly and seasonal power demands, not their average power requirements.
As described in the draft plan, PSE needs to obtain about 1,400 MW of electric capacity by 2016 to meet its customers' peak wintertime demand. Such need is being driven principally by expiring power-supply contracts that must be renewed or replaced with alternate resources. That need continues to grow in later years as additional power purchase contracts expire and aging power plants potentially are retired.
PSE's first choice for satisfying customers' peak demand is energy efficiency. According to the draft IRP, cost-effective conservation programs can cut PSE's projected need for new power capacity resources by about 700 MW, or more than 25%, over the next decade.
The draft IRP points out that PSE also will need to obtain an additional 325 MW of renewable energy – primarily wind power – by 2020 to comply with Washington's renewable energy mandate. A 2006 voter-approved state law requires larger utilities to obtain 15% of their customers' power supply from renewable resources by 2020.
PSE already has two large wind facilities in operation: the 157 MW Hopkins Ridge wind facility in Columbia County, and the 270 MW Wild Horse wind and solar facility in Kittitas County.
The utility's 343 MW Lower Snake River Wind Project-Phase I is expected to come online next year.
PSE released its draft IRP for review and comment by the public and various stakeholders. The draft plan will be filed by May 31 with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.
SOURCE: Puget Sound Energy