Carbon-Free PSE

Carbon-Free PSE

PSE’s 2019 20-Year Plan
Every two years, each of Washington’s for-profit utilities must file a 20-year energy plan with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. That “Integrated Resource Plan,” or IRP, outlines how the utility will bring energy to its customers.

The largest utility in our state is Puget Sound Energy and 60% of their electricity comes from fossil fuels.

Planning process
PSE exposes its planning work for the 2019 IRP in a series of 7 monthly Technical Advisory Group meetings. They’re open to the public but comment is limited.

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 Whether PSE will continue to use an outdated version of the Social Cost of Carbon remains to be seen.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 last 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 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 has put the topic off limits, even though that may violate the state’s IRP statute.

Technical Advisory Group Meeting #8 – Gas modeling, the Social Cost of Carbon, electric scenario pricing, electric modeling
Covering where the gas comes from, how much the carbon adder adds, future electricity prices and the overall modeling process.

Thursday, September 19, 10:00am – 5:00pm
Hilton Bellevue, Salon D, 300 112 Ave. SE, Bellevue 98004 
Call-in number: 1-866-899-4679; Access code: 688-646-941#

Here’s the agenda and the presentation materials.

Follow @PSEreporter on Twitter for day-of coverage of #2019TAG meetings.

The revised IRP schedule runs until December 2019. The updated agenda for all PSE planning meetings is available here.

The road ahead
The Clean Energy Transformation Act requires PSE to decarbonize. Will they act responsibly or drag their feet? Thanks to their lobbying efforts, cost caps are included in the Clean Energy Transformation Act. Will they attempt to game the system by reclassifying current conservation practices as compliance measures? Will they overestimate the costs of renewables and new transmission? Citizen participation in their planning process is more important, and potentially impactful, than ever.

For years, PSE’s long-range planning has fallen short of the climate goals necessary for our long-term survival. Their for-profit business model is based on getting state approval for big capital projects and earning a guaranteed rate of return on their investment, not, as their expert greenwashing would have us believe, providing renewable energy.

Your participation is needed to ensure that PSE plans for a future we can live in.

To get involved, contact David.