Northwest U.S. Wants a Study on Renewables

A U.S. renewable energy group is looking for someone to undertake an economic analysis to determine the costs of using clean energy in the Pacific Northwest.

SEATTLE, Washington, US, 2001-04-26 <> The NW Energy Coalition and other energy, wildlife and environmental groups in the region have issued a Request for Proposals to find a consultant who can create a highly credible alternative energy path that will take the pressure off the Columbia and Snake Rivers by diversifying the resource mix with no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. “The Western energy crisis creates an opportunity to reexamine the energy future of the Northwest,” says the RFP. “High natural gas and electricity prices create unprecedented opportunities to develop renewable energy resources and capture more energy savings from investments in energy efficiency” which will mitigate the GHG emissions from new natural gas fired power plants and, in so doing, reduce the demand for hydro generation from the Columbia River which will threaten the region’s salmon runs. The energy crisis has resulted in a full-scale abandonment of salmon protection at federal hydroelectric facilities, and the groups claim that the Bonneville Power Administration is making river management decisions that will “unnecessarily kill millions of juvenile salmon this year” simply to secure financial stability for BPA. More than 20 generating plants that will burn natural gas are planned, with total capacity of 10,000 MW. “New renewable energy resources are also proposed but may get trumped by the frenzy to build gas plants” in the four states, says the RFP. The most recent analysis of electricity needs and energy resources in the region was done by the Northwest Power Planning Council in 1998, based on 1994-96 data. “The region needs a comprehensive vision for its energy future with an environmentally responsible resource portfolio” and the groups will pay up to $75,000 for a consultant who can “provide the foundation for policy and outreach initiatives designed to achieve increases in investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources and slow the commitments to new fossil fuel generation.” The report must examine the financial costs of meeting regional load growth and replacement of retired facilities with energy efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal, low impact hydropower and biomass. It must examine the net job impacts of both scenarios. The study will assume that federal production and investment tax credits for renewables continue, and the final report must review the potential of renewable energy. The deadline for proposals is next month, with the final report by early September.

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