Energy Renewable Energy

How utility planning is building a clean energy future in the US northwest

Renewable Energy

Summary

A look at how serious climate progress is happening behind the scenes at US power utilities.

Perspectives and insights

  • Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act requires a full phaseout of coal power by 2026, a transition to totally carbon-neutral electricity by 2030, and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.
  • Oregon’s Clean Energy and Coal Transition Act of 2016 transitions the state’s utilities off coal generation by 2030 and mandates that at least 50% of each utility’s power must come from clean energy sources by 2040.
  • To meet the new requirements laid out in the Oregon and Washington laws, each utility is writing a new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to serve as the playbook for meeting power needs of the region.

Xoologue - a discussion between Xoo and Moo

Moo: A 100% carbon free electricity target for Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act. Sounds great, Xoo, but how feasible is it? It will mean getting all the electricity from solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and any other source that has no carbon in it.

Xoo: Well, Moo, you have listed almost all the non-carbon sources, with perhaps only ocean energy left out. But answering your question, I agree with you that the feasibility is very challenging even though we have about 25 years to work it out.

Moo: What do you think can make it happen, Xoo?

Xoo: You know it, I know it, it’s an open secret: energy storage

Moo: But is that alone enough to bind all the renewable energy sources & give us a 100% zero carbon power by around 2050?

Xoo: Well, there’s yet another thing, and that has nothing to do with energy generation, conservation or storage. Want to make a guess?

Moo: Politics perhaps?

Xoo: I know you have ambitions in that direction, Moo! Well, politics is a part of everything, but I was referring to something else: Information technology/digital technology. If we are going to have so many diverse non-carbon sources of power each with its own characteristics, in addition to storage that smoothens things out, digital technology will be the lever that drives the efficiencies & smartness required to make this happen.