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 Whether PSE will continue to use an outdated version of the Social Cost of Carbon remains to be seen.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.

Now that the legislative session has ended, PSE is holding two meetings to address the groundbreaking Clean Energy Transformation Act.

Third Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Group Meeting
Sr. Vice-President David Mills will provide the utility’s response to the Clean Energy Transformation Act, which will require PSE to get off coal by 2025, be carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil-free by 2045. This is the decarbonization blueprint we have been asking for.

The meeting concludes with a two-hour public comment period with SVP Mills and members of the Utilities and Transportation Commission in attendance. Originally promised for last fall and postponed twice, this is a rare opportunity to speak to PSE leadership. Public comments will be limited to 2 minutes each, with the speaking order determined by lottery.

Executive Listening Session
Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Time: 4:30 to 8:30pm
Location: Hilton Bellevue, Skyview room, 300 112 Avenue SE, Bellevue 98004

Here’s the agenda.

Audio-only call-in number: (425) 659-5268. Access code: 3287975#

Just one week later comes a single TAG meeting before a two month break:

Technical Advisory Group Meeting #6 – Clean Energy Transformation Act review, scenarios and sensitivities, upstream gas emissions
Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Time: 9:00am to 5:30pm
Location: Hilton Bellevue, 300 112 Avenue SE, Bellevue 98004

TAG meetings are open to all but public comment is limited to 5:00pm.

Follow @PSEreporter on Twitter for day-of coverage of the listening session and upcoming #2019TAG meetings.

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

The road ahead
PSE must now plan 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 consistently fell 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.