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NW Fishletter #380, April 2, 2018

[11] Council Makes Annual Report To Congress, Calls FY 2017 'Another Challenging Year'

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council called fiscal year 2017 "another challenging year," in its annual report to Congress on the state of the Columbia River Basin.

The new report, posted March 23 on the Council's website, focuses on changes in Western energy markets due to rapid growth of wind and solar power and low-cost natural gas in explaining ongoing challenges faced by hydropower and BPA to find a secure niche.

"As inexpensive renewable power pours into the West Coast wholesale market, Bonneville finds itself in an increasingly competitive situation that may lead to difficult budgetary decisions," the report says. "Thus, sunshine in California could have a chilling effect on Bonneville's budget, with implications for fish and wildlife recovery if Bonneville has to reduce spending. Nevertheless, the Council is committed to work with Bonneville to ensure that the fish and wildlife program continues to be efficient and data-driven and to produce outcomes that can be measured and assessed."

The 48-page report on FY 2017 (covering Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017) discusses considerations of a West Coast power system, provides an overview of implementing the Seventh Northwest Power and Conservation Plan, looks at energy-efficiency investments, and considers the Northwest's energy demand and carbon footprint. It also looks at its progress in implementing 22 strategies laid out in its 2014 Fish & Wildlife Program, and reviews the Council's budget and its public outreach.

The annual report notes hydropower provides more than half of the Pacific Northwest's electricity. But numerous factors are changing the industry, including a stagnant load growth of less than 1 percent per year, government policies that mandate renewable resources, electrification of transportation, low-cost natural gas, distributed resources like rooftop solar panels, electric vehicles and smart thermostats that give consumers more control over their energy consumption, and large corporations acquiring their own electricity resources.

"What will the system look like in a decade or two?" the Council's letter to Congress and citizens of the Pacific Northwest asks. "We don't know yet, but we're willing to bet that it will continue to be low-cost, low-carbon, reliable and efficient." -K.C. M.

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Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
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