On May 28, 2019, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) held a workshop to build a common understanding for Oregon regulators, utilities, and other stakeholders of how the transition to a low-carbon electric system requires the identification of regional capacity needs and region-wide solutions that complement utility-specific planning to ensure cost-effective reliability.
Recent regional electricity spot market price spikes, while driven by unusual constraints on the natural gas and transmission infrastructure, foretell the importance of understanding how the region is planning to meet resource adequacy needs over the 2020-2030 timeframe. A January 2019 comprehensive analysis of Pacific Northwest (PNW) capacity options by the consulting firm E3 concluded that the PNW could face an eight gigawatt (GW) capacity deficit to meet reliability needs by 2030. Regional energy stakeholders are actively engaging on how to accurately understand and address this growing concern.
Resource adequacy planning is adapting to the evolving resource mix in the region to ensure a least-cost and smooth transition that maximizes customer benefits and manages risks effectively.
In Oregon, we are familiar with the investor-owned electric utility Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process for determining a reasonable portfolio of actions to meet individual utility future needs. These processes are robust as they consider future risks and uncertainties to ensure customer benefits. However, regional constraints on capacity (physical, economic and social) and the inefficiencies created when each utility goes it alone, point to the need for deeper regional planning and action.
Maintaining system reliability will require a portfolio of solutions, by both individual utilities and regional initiatives.
For additional information, view the agenda and video of the workshop.