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Pacific Northwest Power Plan Draft Recommends More Renewable Generation

Wind turbines.
Wind turbines.

An interstate agency is seeking public comment on a draft power plan that outlines electricity generation needs in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state and recommends the Pacific Northwest adopt more renewable energy resources like wind and solar.

Around two dozen Montanans signed up to speak at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s virtual public hearing on Monday. Among the commenters were representatives from climate advocacy groups, western Montana electric cooperatives and utilities like NorthWestern Energy.

Some commenters hailed the recommendation of more renewable energy development. Others like Ravalli Electric Cooperative trustee Dennis Schneiter expressed worry that the plan fails to prioritize transmission system health and relies too much on wind and solar over immediately dispatchable energy from more traditional energy generators.

“I would think that the council would put more time in the area of improved transmission and I also believe we can’t sell ourselves short — we always need to have firm power,” Schneiter said.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is an interstate agency of eight representatives from Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state. It updates its 20-year power plan every five years to inform the decisions of Bonneville Power Administration, a federal nonprofit that sells hydropower from the Columbia River to customers across the region.

The council is accepting public comment on its draft plan through November 19.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.