Fourteen of Washington's 17 largest utilities met the state's higher renewable energy requirement, which jumped from 9 percent in 2019 to 15 percent for 2020.

Three utilities—Clark Public Utilities, Seattle City Light and Tacoma Power—plan to use alternative provisions for complying with the renewables requirement of the Energy Independence Act (EIA), passed as Initiative 937 in 2006.

The 17 utilities also achieved conservation levels of 1,757,373 MWh in 2018 and 2019 combined, which is 129 percent of their 1,366,886 MWh two-year target and 1.2 percent of their retail load, according to I-937 reports filed with the state's Department of Commerce.

The EIA sets targets for conservation and renewable energy capacity for utilities with 25,000 or more customers in Washington. That includes 14 public-power utilities—Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Cowlitz, Grant, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason No. 3 and Snohomish county PUDs, Clark Public Utilities, Inland Power & Light, Peninsula Light, Seattle City Light and Tacoma Power—and three investor-owned utilities—Avista, PacifiCorp and Puget Sound Energy. Together, these utilities provide more than 80 percent of the state's electricity.

Franklin County PUD's retail customer base has grown enough that it became eligible under the EIA in 2016, and will be subject to its mandates starting in 2022 including at least 3 percent renewables.

Qualifying renewable resources and renewable energy credits account for 13.2 percent of projected demand for the 17 utilities in 2020, according to a summary report released July 16 by the Commerce Department.

Fourteen of the utilities complied with the EIA's RPS requirement that 15 percent of load come from qualifying renewable resources.

The EIA allows utilities two other ways of complying with the renewables requirement. One is by investing at least 4 percent of annual revenue requirement in the incremental cost of renewable resources and RECs.

The other way is to show its weather-adjusted average annual load has not increased in the past three years and no new nonrenewable energy resources have been added. In this case, the utility can comply by spending at least 1 percent of its revenue requirement on eligible renewables, RECs or a combination of the two.

Two utilities—Seattle City Light and Tacoma Power—expect to comply by meeting the 1 percent spending threshold. Qualifying renewables only made up 5.9 percent of Seattle's projected load this year. Tacoma Power fell just shy with 14.1 percent, and mostly relied on RECs to reach the 1 percent compliance threshold.

Clark Public Utilities plans to spend $14.6 million on RECs this year to reach the 4 percent of annual retail revenue requirement for alternative compliance.

Wind made up 62 percent of renewable resources and RECs used by the 17 utilities, while incremental hydropower achieved through efficiency upgrades made up 8 percent. Chelan and Grant county PUDs relied almost exclusively on hydropower upgrades to meet their RPS requirements.

Washington's Clean Energy Transition Act, passed in 2019, expanded the eligible hydropower to include BPA sources.

Puget Sound Energy booked the largest conservation gains for the two years with 549,115 MWh. That is 106 percent of its 520,456 MWh target.

Grant County PUD saved 86,463 MWh in 2018 and another 8,224 MWh in 2019, for a combined 94,687 MWh. That is 295 percent of its 32,149 MWh target.

Tacoma Power recorded 122,504 MWh for the two years, 221 percent of its 55,538 MWh goal.

Chelan, Mason No. 3 and Cowlitz County PUD also surpassed their conservation targets by more than 50 percentage points.

The commercial sector provided 37 percent of all conservation gains, followed by 30 percent from residential customers, 17 percent from industrial and 15 percent from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance programs. Less than 1 percent came from agricultural and distribution.

The 17 utilities have a slightly smaller combined conservation target in 2020 and 2021—1,317,071 MWh, which is 4 percent lower than the 2018-2019 target of 1,366,886 MWh.

Contributing Editor

Dan has covered stories from Seattle to Tbilisi; spent time with the AP, Everett Daily Herald and Christian Science Monitor; and was twice a member of a team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He and his wife have three young children and live in Seattle.