Utility Resource Planning
Electric utilities in Washington vary in size and scope of operations. This is reflected in the way utilities approach resource planning and forecasting. Larger utilities typically use multiple sources of electricity supply to meet their customers’ requirements and engage in sophisticated assessments of risks and benefits in evaluating alternative sources of new energy. Many smaller utilities rely on a single supplier to supply all of the power required by their customers. For smaller utilities, the upstream provider – often the Bonneville Power Administration but sometimes another electric utility – undertakes the complex planning and forecasting that leads to a resource plan.
The current round of utility resource plans indicates a continued reliance on energy conservation as the primary resource for balancing electricity supply and demand. The statewide aggregate growth in electricity demand is expected to be moderate and most of this growth will be offset through energy conservation programs operated by utilities. Several utilities project that their conservation programs will result in more electricity savings than their projected amount of load growth. These utilities expect to experience negative growth in observed electric loads. With the majority of load growth met by conservation programs, utilities are projecting minimal need to acquire additional generating supply resources. The additional resources will primarily be used to replace retiring coal-fired generation.