POLICY: Carbon-Free PSE (2019)

Puget Sound Energy’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan
PSE shared its planning work for the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan in a series of 8 monthly Technical Advisory Group meetings. PSE’s presentation materials and “key communications” are available here.

The first technical meeting on “Electric Resource Costs” was spent reviewing the set of generic power resources assembled for PSE by a consultant. The final version of that report is available here.

The second TAG meeting was an all-day session focusing on carbon prices, gas prices and portfolio sensitivities. Whether PSE will continue to use an outdated version of the Social Cost of Carbon remains to be seen.

The third TAG focused on demand-side resources for electricity and fracked gas and was marked by frustration from TAG members at the constrained commenting format and lack of dialog.

With new facilitation, the fourth TAG on system planning, portfolio sensitivities, and load forecast included more dialog between organizers and TAG members, with topics including the controversial Energize Eastside project and PSE’s use of the Social Cost of Carbon.

At the fifth TAG meeting, PSE announced they were postponing further meetings until after the legislative session but refused to discuss their lobbying efforts in regards to clean electricity legislation. The adequacy of renewable energy resources and planning standards for electricity and gas were topics in this meeting, with an emphasis on the increasing costs of the last 5% in a 100% decarbonization scenario.

In May PSE finally held the twice-postponed public listening session they first promised the previous fall. Senior Vice President David Mills heard 67 people demand that PSE respond to the climate crisis, get off fracked gas and stop their unpermitted construction of the Tacoma LNG facility.

In the sixth TAG meeting, PSE began to detail their response to the Clean Energy Transformation Act, which requires them to get off coal by 2025, be carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil-free by 2045. Discussion covered the Social Cost of Carbon, cost caps and how upstream gas emissions will be calculated. (More detail in PSE’s notes of the meeting, here.)

The seventh TAG meeting was supposed to provide the technical rationale for PSE’s controversial Energize Eastside transmission project. After all, they’d postponed twice before, effectively blocking any discussion of the project’s technical merits until after the City of Bellevue’s permit hearing, which granted the permit. But after five parties appealed, including TAG members, PSE put the topic off limits, even though that may violate the state’s IRP statute.

The eighth TAG meeting started with PSE’s refusal to address the controversial Energize Eastside project, then covered gas modeling and how the social cost of carbon would be taken into account for dispatch and acquisitions. @PSEReporter’s coverage of the eighth TAG meeting can be read here.

Following the eighth TAG meeting, investor owned utilities PSE and Avista successfully petitioned the Utility and Transportation Commission to suspend their 2019 planning cycles so all parties could reset their processes in response to the Clean Energy Transformation Act.