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.
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 Whether PSE will continue to use an outdated version of the Social Cost of Carbon remains to be seen.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.)
Technical Advisory Group Meeting #7 –
Tuesday, August 6, 9:30am – 5:00pm
TAG #7 was supposed to provide the technical rationale for PSE’s controversial Energize Eastside transmission project.
This isn’t the first time PSE has stonewalled on this project. They postponed a discussion scheduled for the March TAG meeting until after the City of Bellevue’s public hearing. Project opponents complained and the city moved the hearing date. Then PSE used the legislative session as a pretext for postponing any discussion of the project until August, effectively blocking any discussion of the project until after the revised hearing date.
Now the permit has been granted and five parties have appealed. PSE cites the appeal as their reason for cancelling the seventh TAG meeting, but as noted by one TAG member, avoiding this conversation may put PSE in violation of the state’s IRP statute. This will likely be a topic for future conversations with regulators.
The next TAG meeting will be Tuesday, September 19. 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.