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Developers of a proposed solar panel and photovoltaic cell manufacturing plant in Washington state are making bold promises about products to be made and jobs to be generated. Whether they can deliver on those promises will help shape the public's perception of the ability of clean and green tech to generate new jobs to replace those lost in the major economic transition.

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The mid-August rolling blackouts in California raise serious resource adequacy issues, including metrics to measure RA, writes guest columnist Tom Karier. He suggests California could benefit from moving away from a reserve margin and instead use loss of load probability, as the Northwest does, to gauge the amount of future risk and the relative urgency of the problem.

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While some say the August blackouts in California were due to problems stemming from the state's renewable energy policies, one theory attributes it to insufficient planning-reserve margin and overvaluing some resources for reliability, coupled with inadequate capacity on the system. Another theory was that California ISO failed its own resource sufficiency test, locking out capacity. In any case, the last words on the blackouts are yet to come.

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Northwest RiverPartners Executive Director Kurt Miller proposes conducting statistical testing for dam-caused delayed salmon mortality, and letting the outcome be the basis for a four-state salmon/hydropower solution. The test, he says, should be based on biomedical "best practices"—randomized double-blind experiments with explicit treatment and control groups—which he says would provide a "more objective scientific basis for creating effective salmon recovery policies and improving transparency in decision making."

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Announcements from heavy-duty truck manufacturers like Paccar and Freightliner, and emerging companies like Tesla and Nikola, are a clear indicator that e-truck technology is a thing of the here and now, not some distant day. Utilities need to be ready.

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Although electric vehicles are concentrated in metropolitan areas, a new Northwest regional study and a companion planning guide indicate EVs could bring many benefits to smaller communities, in particular for public-power utilities and their customers. Bottom-line findings show net ratepayer benefits of $300 to $1,000 per electric vehicle, and $4,100 per EV for the local economy.

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Joe Biden released a climate action plan that draws heavily from the platforms of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former candidates in this year's presidential race. This column explores some of the ramifications of the plan's central pillar, a carbon pollution-free electric sector by 2035.

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Artificially low fixed charges by electric utilities can be detrimental to low-income customers, writes Scott Coe, GM of Oregon's Emerald PUD, in a guest column. They can also inequitably benefit wealthier customers, who can afford energy efficiency or solar investments, and thus pay less of their share of embedded system costs, leaving others to bear those costs. Coe writes that rate design will increasingly drive inequitable outcomes unless cost-based principles are followed.

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Three stories to ruminate upon. First, the utility industry is increasingly finding itself enmeshed in global trade and security disputes. Second, the next big wave of motorized vehicle electrification could be occurring down on the farm. Third, the abrupt closing of a newsprint mill in northeast Washington is a reminder of the perils of having one big customer in town.

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Chinook salmon are king in the Pacific Northwest, but when it comes to competing in the ocean, they're losing out to the smallest of Pacific salmon—pinks. In mid-June, the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission announced salmon catches from 2019, and the winners are clearly Russia and Alaska, where pink salmon are ultra-abundant.

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While most of the recent focus on racial equity has been on police violence against Black Americans, utilities have a key role to play in advancing racial equity in America, advocates note, saying they need to step up their game.

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The 2020 Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference--Online is coming soon, on the mornings of June 25 and 26. Co-produced by NewsData and CJB Energy Economics, this virtual event features leading regional energy experts sharing insights on vital topics related to power markets, utility resources, the regional grid and more. Please join us!

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There was a time when advocating for termination of the Columbia River Treaty was considered radical, or at least a little reckless. That time has passed. If the goal is to secure a new agreement with Canada governing international water flows in the Columbia Basin, the only alternative for the United States is to terminate the old treaty, writes guest columnist Tom Karier.

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We are excited to announce the 2020 Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference—Online, the mornings of June 25 and 26. This virtual event, co-produced by NewsData and CJB Energy Economics, will offer timely, objective and actionable information from leading regional energy experts on key topics related to power markets, utility resources, the regional grid and more.

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Darrel Anderson will end a 24-year career at Idaho Power when he retires June 1 as CEO. Anderson already has seen plenty of change during his time in the industry. Even more is here or anticipated—decarbonization, declining loads, electrification and microgrids, to name just a few examples. …

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Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Online 2020 Webinar I, Presented by CJB Energy Economics and NewsData, June 25-26, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. each day

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With the prospect of sizable regional capacity deficits in coming years, a potential Northwest resource adequacy program is in development under auspices of the Northwest Power Pool and a steering committee with representatives from 18 entities. The proposed venture is in preliminary design, and at an April 24 webinar some preliminary ideas were shared about RA metrics and considerations for program governance and structure.

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In the recently released draft EIS for the Columbia River hydropower system, federal agencies supported a different underlying science for their preferred alternative. This abrupt change highlights the need for independent science to help identify the best strategy to recover endangered fish populations, writes contributing columnist Tom Karier.

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The new coronavirus is exacting a tragic human toll along with economic calamity. It also looks to usher in an era of heightened uncertainties in energy, as even experts acknowledge in looking ahead to the coming months and years.

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The well-known trend of retiring Northwest coal plants and some of its implications is detailed in the just-released 2020 Northwest Regional Forecast from Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee. The NRF, an annual 10-year forecast of utility loads and resources, also highlights a planned surge in solar plus storage along with other new renewables, modest projected load growth and continuing robust energy efficiency. It also notes the energy-system uncertainties from COVID-19.

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In the second of a series of podcast interviews featuring Pacific Northwest utility leaders discussing the coronavirus pandemic, Puget Sound Energy President/CEO Mary Kipp talks about her utility's early approach; the utility's ongoing operational work and social-distancing adaptations; load reductions, near term and beyond; utility actions for health/safety and easing economic hardships; staying connected with customers and local communities; and potential longer-term impacts on the utility and energy industry.

In the first of a series of columns/podcasts featuring leaders of Northwest utilities and their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, I talked with Snohomish County PUD CEO/GM John Haarlow. He shared the utility's focus on health, safety and economic-mitigation measures, as well as insights on demand patterns and longer-term impacts of the pandemic on the electric industry and the PUD.

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The COVID-19 pandemic casts a large shadow over the entire world, including our region. This column explores initial pandemic responses from the regional electric and natural gas industries, and outlines a preliminary and partial list of energy-related questions and challenges from this fast-moving crisis.

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Useful, usable price-comparison data for electric utility service has long been hard to get. A proposal to expand and enhance a national database of electricity rates promises to change that, and if it does it will open up a lot of discussions between utilities and their residential and business customers.

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We are excited to welcome as a guest columnist Tom Karier, a former Washington member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council for 20 years, and now an economics professor at Eastern Washington University. In his first column for Clearing Up, Karier explores the efficacy of spill along with the notion of federal court-ordered salmon-recovery measures, and finds limitations for both.

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Exploring the past can help make sense of the present and chart the future, so we at Clearing Up asked eight regional officials in the energy world to briefly answer a question: What was the most impactful energy-related development in your state or in the Northwest in the decade from 2010 through 2019? Following are answers from four of them; the other four answers were published in our Feb. 21 issue (CU No. 1941 [10]). Thanks to all participants for sharing their thoughts.

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On the premise that exploring the past can help make sense of the present and chart the future, we at Clearing Up asked numerous regional energy officials to briefly answer a question: What was the most impactful energy-related development in your state or in the Northwest in the decade from 2010 through 2019? Following are answers from four of them. The remainder will be published in our Feb. 28 issue. Thanks to all participants for sharing their thoughts.

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Trying to prepare for the upcoming EIS on the Columbia River System Operations, this reporter took a deep dive into the science behind juvenile fish survival in the lower Snake and Columbia rivers, and came up for air with a little more knowledge and a lot more uncertainty.

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Businesses line up behind a pair of proposed cap-and-trade bills in Washington and Oregon, NIPPC hires a new executive director just in time for RFP season in Oregon, and remembering that integrity matters.

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Fourth Annual Northwest Wholesale Power Markets Conference: Transformation to Decarbonization, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, Seattle, WA. More Details to Come ...

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Outages are signals of weaknesses in the electrical grid, whether they occur because of natural calamity or deliberate attack. The threat of massive and prolonged outages is growing. The consequences could be devastating.

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Large-scale electrification and natural gas decarbonization were the featured topics at an Oct. 22, 2019 conference in Seattle co-hosted by NewsData and CJB Energy Economics. Last week's {https://www.newsdata.com/clearing_up/opinion_and_perspectives/electrification-gas-decarbonization-emerging-as-prime-energy-topics/article_1645d786-2e77-11ea-96a0-1b66b2f9f55d.html column} focused on two main takeaways from the event. This week's column explores four more.

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Processes for large-scale electrification and natural gas decarbonization are already underway, but their paths forward are uncertain and present a host of considerations. That summary thought, presented here along with a half-dozen takeaway observations, comes from an Oct. 22, 2019, conference on those topics, co-hosted by NewsData and CJB Energy Economics. This is the first of a two-part series.

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In the spirit of the season, we present our annual energy-themed carols for your holiday enjoyment. Our offices will be closed Dec. 23-27, reopening Dec. 30, and we will resume publishing on Friday, Jan. 3. From all of us at NewsData to all of you, best wishes for the holidays and for 2020!

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Last week's column explored the recent surge in community choice aggregators (CCAs) in California, along with the appeal, nimbleness and diversity of this alternative to investor-owned utility electric service. This second part—as with the first, largely based on the Nov. 6-7 annual gatherin…

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On the occasion of Thanksgiving Day, we at Clearing Up pause to give some energy-related thanks. We also offer our best wishes to all of you for the upcoming holiday season.

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The Pacific Gas & Electric debacle is spotlighting a fundamental change in how investments in utility stocks are perceived and priced. They're no longer the safe haven of low volatility, low risk and stable if unremarkable returns, and investors in those stocks will expect to be compensated for that change.

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Scientists don’t always agree about the complexities of salmon recovery. But no one is served when reporters get the facts wrong, or when they report opinion as fact.

Upcoming Events

Come to GridFWD 2020, a virtual event on grid modernization with dozens of sessions scheduled from Oct 6 to Oct 15. Participate in Interactive group sessions led by energy industry leaders across three themes: Resilient Systems, Adaptable Models, Empowered People. Sit in on live podcast reco… Read more

Join NWHA and NHA for a virtual workshop that focuses on a cross-section of topics relevant to the the hydropower industry in the Northwest. Topics this fall include national and regional hot topics, legislative updates, tools to communicate around hydropower and energy imbalance markets upd… Read more

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