Northwest energy plan emphasizes solar, wind power through 2041 with coal losing steam

  • Oct 07, 2021
  • Columbian

A virtual public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday. The council is accepting public comment through Nov. 19.

Kujala said planning mistakes can impact energy bills, and have already.

“We’re in a good place, and we want to keep that advantage,” he said. “It helps all kinds of things when we have good rates, so making good plans to go ahead and spend money, make sure we have a robust system, a reliable system, but not spend too much money — not overbuild — and not spend too little and get us into a situation where we have to spend a bunch of money in a year to keep the lights on. That’s the balance on planning.”

The power plan is revised every five years, as required by the federal Northwest Power Act. This year’s iteration outlines the most “dramatic changes in the future power supply” for the region since the council was formed by Congress in 1980, according to plan documents.

A number of coal-fueled plants in the region — including Unit 2 of the TransAlta plant in Centralia — are expected to retire over the next decade for economic or environmental reasons. While the region’s coal fleet totaled around 7,000 megawatts of capacity in 2018, retirements in recent years have reduced that to just under 5,000 megawatts.

By the end of 2028, that number is expected to further decrease to 2,400 megawatts, according to the plan.