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This week's column is meant to be a snapshot of where the Northwest is in its move toward participating in a wholesale energy market. Most, but not all, of the sources in the column were given anonymity to speak freely and give readers an idea of what people are thinking about either joining or forming a market. I plan to check back with the same sources throughout the year for updates

In the spirit of the season, we present our annual medley of energy-themed carols, including some recorded by special guests and available on YouTube via the links provided. We wish all of you, our valued subscribers, Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2022! We are taking a publishing break; look for the next Clearing Up issue on Jan. 7, 2022.

The Arctic region continues to warm more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe, according to NOAA's 2021 Arctic Report Card. Scientists say the Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by mid-century. That means a child born today could have to explain to their children where Santa Claus and his coterie go when the North Pole is open ocean.

I'm thankful to be among the regional energy community, including our NewsData colleagues. It's an honor and a privilege to work with, and know so many, smart, engaging, thoughtful, passionate and dedicated folks, all of whom—in their own ways, from their own perspectives—are seeking to make…

TerraPower has selected Kemmerer, Wyo., near PacifiCorp's Naughton Power Plant, as the site of its Natrium demonstration project, a 345 MW sodium-cooled nuclear reactor with an integrated molten salt-based energy storage system. And whether you like nuclear power or not, it's a hugely important project with global ramifications. If it works, it may be Bill Gates' gift to PacifiCorp and the Western Interconnection.

The "California effect"—the term given to the spread of California policies that are adopted by other states—may help spread the adoption of electric vehicles internationally, if the events at the United Nation's climate change conference are any indication.

Nicole Hughes, executive director of regional renewables advocate Renewable Northwest, responds to a recent opinion piece in Clearing Up by Benton County PUD GM Rick Dunn. Hughes says Dunn's column is based in part on a divide between wind generation and existing hydropower, and on Oregon and Washington barring the use of nuclear power to satisfy their clean energy standards, both of which are false and obscure the roles all these resources can play in carbon policies.

The story of the hoary bat—the bat species most frequently killed by wind turbines—and how a change in wind turbine start-up speed could prevent a listing under the Endangered Species Act is just one of many environmental impacts we hope to begin reporting as the Northwest ramps up its clean energy portfolio.

Efforts by upper Columbia River tribes to reintroduce salmon above Grand Coulee Dam are on track. With successful spawning and rearing in tributaries—and a directive from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council for BPA to mitigate for the loss of anadromous fish in the upper Columbia River—the region will soon examine the next phase of reintroduction.

Lisa Wilson, a Lummi Indian Business Council member and commissioner for the Northwest Indian Fish Commission, wrote this week's column. Her piece about the importance of hatcheries to salmon recovery was originally published on Oct. 5 for NWIFC's column, Being Frank, which appears on the Northwest Treaty Tribes' website, and is being reprinted here with its permission.

This week's column comes from Benton County PUD GM Rick Dunn, who shares his concerns about problems that might be caused by the convergence of clean energy, conservation policies and the "increasingly fragile" Northwest power grid. He says there could be environmental and ecological consequences from a deepening dependence on wind and solar power.

In this second of a two-part series on the late June/early July Northwest heat dome, officials from four regional utilities (Avista Utilities, Benton PUD, Clark Public Utilities and Idaho Power) share measures taken to help weather the event, internal and external communications, and looking ahead/lessons learned.

In an open letter to BPA Administrator John Hairston, Public Power Council's Executive Committee Chair Roger Kline and Executive Director Scott Simms express the group's concerns with the case Bonneville has made for joining the Western EIM and the proposed Western Resource Adequacy Program, and suggest ways to address these concerns. Kline is also Northern Wasco County PUD's general manager.

The second part of the two-part column, "Heat-Dome Tales From Four Northwest Utilities," will be published in Clearing Up's Sept. 24 issue (No. 2023). The first part ran Sept. 10 (CU No. 2021 [10]).

The Pacific Northwest experienced an extreme heat dome in late June and early July, which, among other consequences, tested the region's electric system. For the most part, regional utilities kept the power flowing to customers through the extreme warmth, despite some on-the-edge conditions. This is the first of a two-part column on the heat-dome experiences of four Northwest utilities: Avista Utilities, Benton PUD, Clark Public Utilities and Idaho Power.

An environment and labor coalition in California has urged the state Legislature to facilitate the new transmission needed—before it is too late—to move the new renewables it needs for its ambitious renewable energy goals and to lesson impacts disadvantaged areas from fossil fuel generation.

Clearing Up sat down with Rebecca O’Neil, head of the renewable energy team of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, to talk about how the electric power industry can better use energy ­storage. The technology is here to improve grid ­resiliency and reliability and to address energy inequity. But the ­industry’s planning and regulatory paradigms are holding us back, she says.

In this week’s Bearing Down, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown explains the events that led her to direct the state to join plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking the removal of the lower Snake River dams for the benefit of wild salmon and steelhead. In response to the ­editorial, which originally appeared in the East Oregonian ­newspaper, the Public Power Council has invited Brown to attend its upcoming virtual board meeting on Oct. 7, 2021.

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Whooshh Innovations has tested a fish passage system that can replace fish ladders. And has now approached Northwest lawmakers and federal agencies with an alternative plan to help ESA-listed salmon and steelhead in the Snake River basin. The company's CEO says its $67 million cost could be recovered in 10 years—with money to spare—if the water saved by closing the fish ladders is used to generate carbon-free hydropower instead.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is taking a critical look at its Fish and Wildlife Program to assess its overall success. At a recent meeting, Council staff made clear to the agency's Fish and Wildlife Committee that the program's job is to mitigate for hydroelectric dams, not to recover ESA-listed fish. It's a critical difference, and one that is too often misunderstood throughout the region.

PacifiCorp has proposed a transportation electrification pilot program to help accelerate adoption of electric vehicles in rural Oregon. The program would help cover the costs of building charging stations for residential and nonresidential customers, along with an education and outreach program. This comes at a time when rural America is about to get an electric vehicle it will recognize.

Announcements of new electric aviation programs and technological advances seem to come more and more frequently. An airplane maker near Seattle expects its nine-passenger electric airplane to fly for the first time later this year. Emissions and economics likely will spur rapid expansion of commercial electric airplanes in the next 15 years, but for the most part, electric aviation is not on the radar for utilities, regulators and policymakers.

When enacted later this month, Oregon's House Bill 2021 will align the state with New York for the most aggressive state clean electricity goal in the country—zero greenhouse gas emissions in the grid by 2040, says Angus Duncan, former chair of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and president of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Duncan says the bill's passage owes much to the emergence of Oregon's equity and environmental justice communities as a new ally, and notes that much work still remains to turn the state's still-climbing emissions around.

Uncertainty seems to be the one thing that experts are certain about for the Western power grid and wholesale markets this summer. The West is stretched thin with little margin to dampen price swings or in the worst case to prevent outages, said industry leaders speaking at Newsdata and CJB Energy Economics' recent Pacific Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference.

A struggle in the West over transmission access in California during the blazing heat of summer has landed at the desks of federal regulators, with little time left to settle the debate. At issue is the California ISO's plan to require "high-priority" showings for transmission service during tight summer conditions, which has been met with a flurry of protests at the federal level. The plan involves changes to its wheel-through policies, which it says to are meant to avert crowding out imports needed for resource adequacy when the system gets tight in the summer.

Susan Ackerman has had a hand in shaping regional energy policy for nearly three decades and is one of the most respected voices in the region. She'll retire from her current role at Eugene Water and Electric Board in July. Clearing Up takes a look at her career, and tosses a few last questions at "a true energy policy expert."

Leading energy experts from the Northwest and California will explore the 2021-2022 outlook for regional power markets and systems at the 5th Annual Pacific Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference June 17-18. This virtual event, co-presented by CJB Energy Economics and NewsData, is designed to help attendees better understand and be prepared for the coming 18 months. Please join us!

Batteries have become an increasingly common part of new power generation projects, particularly for solar and wind, if interconnection request queues are any guide. While this surge of hybrid project proposals could indicate a paradigm shift in how new resources are handled by balancing authorities, the devil is in the details for determining the value of co-location versus separate locations.

The 2021-2022 outlook for regional power markets and systems is the focus of the 5th Annual Pacific Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference coming June 17-18, virtually, co-presented by CJB Energy Economics and NewsData. Leading energy officials from the Northwest and California will share lots of information and insights for attendees. Please join us!

The 5th Annual Pacific Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference June 17-18 will focus on the 2021-2022 outlook for regional markets and power systems, featuring an exceptional group of leading energy-expert speakers from the Northwest and California. Co-presented by NewsData and CJB Energy Economics, this year's online gathering is designed to help attendees better understand key issues and navigate this near-term future.

There's been lots of news lately about the Simpson proposal to take out Snake River dams and end the salmon wars. We take a look at what's next, and what barriers to consensus have been identified at recent forums and conferences.

The 5th Annual Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference is set for June 17-18, virtually. Co-presented by NewsData and CJB Energy Economics, this year's online gathering will focus on the 2021-2022 outlook for regional markets and power systems. We invite you to register and join us!

A great deal of new high-voltage transmission infrastructure will need to be constructed for the United States to meet its carbon-reduction goals, and a new plan issued by President Joe Biden's administration this week holds promise for this expansion to take place.

This is Clearing Up No. 2000, representing nearly 39 years of continuous chronicling of the Northwest electric and natural gas sectors. The numbers are impressive, but the main story of this milestone is more about evolution, people and community.

An energy calamity of the sort experienced by Texas in mid-February could occur in the Northwest, but sources and research suggest our region has a number of preventive advantages and tools. This is the third and final column exploring the Texas breakdown and potential lessons and takeaways for the Northwest. Read the first two installments here and here.

The Texas power outages in mid-February have reverberated far beyond the Lone Star State. This second of a three-part series explores ways in which the Texas and Northwest energy systems are distinct, as well as potential concerns and vulnerabilities for the Northwest.

For your convenience, NewsData has compiled a list of the acronyms we utilize throughout the Clearing Up publication. Read more