Puget Sound Energy warns it faces significant shortage of power by end of decade

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By TJ MARTINELL | THE CENTER SQUARE

Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest utility provider, is facing a significant energy shortage by the end of the decade unless it finds more resources. One of its officials recently acknowledged the plan could initially include natural gas. 

According to a recent presentation to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, PSE’s Vice President for Clean Energy Strategy and Planning Josh Jacobs said that the utility could have a 2,700 megawatt capacity shortage by 2030.

Among the reasons for the energy shortage is a provision under the Clean Energy Transformation Act of 2019 prohibiting utilities from using electricity derived from coal-fire plants starting in 2025. According to Jacobs, it will represent a loss of 750 megawatts in electrical power moving forward that will need to be replaced with something else.

Coal is among several energy sources, such as natural gas, that has been the target of efforts to “decarbonize” the state’s energy sector. While natural gas could be kept around to aid the transition away from carbon-emitting electricity sources, new houses may not be able to use it for cooking and heating if an updated building code currently under legal challenge is upheld. 

Jacobs told the council that resource adequacy is “certainly a theme within the walls of PSE.”

Overall, in just six years the utility will need to expand its current energy capacity by 6,700 megawatts to comply with CETA and meet demand, which Jacobs described as a “daunting challenge” because it “is more generation than we’ve invested in over the last 100 years.”

Although PSE could utilize energy sources that allow for four-hour storage, Jacobs said “we need to pair with something that’s longer.” While wind and solar energy has been added to PSE’s portfolio, relying on them to meet demand puts the system’s reliability at risk.

Potentially among more reliable resources is nuclear power. PSE is currently working on a feasibility study for a small modular nuclear reactor facility, while also working with Form Energy on a 10-megawatt iron-air long duration battery storage facility.

However, Jacobs warned the council that some of the technologies they’re investing in won’t go online by the time the energy demands arrive. To close the gap, he said they may need “hybrid-peaking resources that help us today but have a pathway to a sustainable future. We may need to look at resources that start on natural gas, or a percentage of natural gas, blend it with hydrogen, (and) backed it up with renewable diesel.”

Concerns about regional energy resource adequacy have been raised numerous times in the years following CETA’s passage in 2019. At a 2021 resource adequacy meeting between the State Department of Commerce and the Utilities and Transportation Commission, Benton County PUD General Manager Rick Dunn told them that the state faces an enormous energy gap that could threaten system stability in a way not seen since the 2000-2001 Western energy crisis.

An E3 study released the same year CETA was enacted warned that the entire Pacific Northwest faced a 7,000 megawatt near-term capacity shortage by 2025 and up to 10,000 megawatts by 2030, noting that “planned resource additions do not fill this gap.”

29 COMMENTS

  1. Their shortages are coming much sooner. The shift to electric cars, elimination of natural gas and all it powers, add to this the closing of coal fired power plants. They may need to share with neighboring utilities once all the hydroelectric dams get removed. Thank you Jay Inslee.

  2. Alaska needs to take any project in the state of Washington to court and block it as they seams to do to Alaska.
    No new construction for power.

    • Exactly.. If they feel the need to run something. Let them take care of their own issues before nosing into others’ businesses

  3. When I read of people — not just the homeless wretches, but the ostensible “elite” — freezing and starving to death in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, I will sit back and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. It cannot come quickly enough, and it could not come to a more clueless and arrogant crowd of madhouse inmates.

    • The elite will never suffer. Ever wonder why Obama installed the state of Hawaii’s largest residential propane tank at his seaside mansion? Obama isn’t dumb, he knows what’s coming.

  4. Here’s a couple solutions offered for your consideration:
    … Buy the Healy Coal Plant and relocate it to WA, tied to a Coal Sales Agreement.
    … Build a LNG Power Plant in WA, whereas AK907 supplies Financing and LNG.
    … Build a Hydrogen Fueled Power Plant, whereas AK907 supplies Financing an Hydrogen.
    … Tap into a few of the USS Navy assets at Bremerton Navy Base.
    … Add Small Scale Nuclear Reactor Units, sequentially as needed.

    • I have another plan.. Let them sink!! They’ve been ripping off Alaska for far too long already. Let them enjoy the fruits of their work!

    • YES, Nuclear reactors provide the best source of Electricity and power, but we have the “green” people choking on this due to a few uneducated/untrained people operating. In Eastern Washington,(Tri-Cities) they have Nuclear energy providing the electricity that is NEEDED in their area. And has been doing it since the 1960’s.

  5. There is not one significant social or environmental problem that couldn’t be eliminated or diminished by a reduction in population.

    This almost never is addressed in resource scarcity issues.

    • No, there’s plenty of carbon resources to last a growing population for the next 200 years. The problem we have are climate change alarmists who are doing all they can do to make life as expensive as humanly possible which, ironically adheres to your premise because people aren’t growing families like they used to. Well, not in the West.

    • There is only one resource that matters, and it is available in an almost limitless supply if Malthusians like you would shut-up and get out of the way: human imagination and ingenuity.

    • This is idiotic and myopic. I’ve been hearing this for literal decades. Too many people, can’t feed them, drain on resources, all that crap.

      Then, not at all amazingly, people in capitalist systems innovate. Crisis that never existed is solved.

      But don’t you worry your pretty head. Liberals are not breeding themselves out of existence. You’re solving your own problems.

    • I wonder what life was like for mankind when we had but 100,000 souls on the planet. I’m guessing the risk of an early and brutal death was far higher than today.

  6. The best part of this is how their energy costs should, at a minimum quadruple in the next 6 years and more into the future. The expense of this loony climate change “crisis” is fun to watch.

  7. This same exact storyline is playing out across the country and across the world. These warnings continue to fall upon deaf ears, and unfortunately the predictable will happen and people will die because of these decisions. People with absolutely zero understanding of how to build, operate, and maintain a functioning power grid are busy making decisions they have no business making. Politicians are mandating pie in the sky ideas based upon designs that have proven time and time again to not provide reliable energy, worse is that these sources of energy reliably do not provide energy when it is needed most. This is a crisis of our own making and it is wholly avoidable.

  8. Oregon is heading down the same stupid path. They will demand to suck off the entire western grid while claiming they are feel good green. That will drag down and eventually blow that and then………….too bad so sad.

  9. When we speak of Seattle, we talk of their elites. They will always be covered, no matter what the issue they bring on the masses. They do deserve the fate they get, however; we all know that the masses will suffer before those making the decisions. Seattle could reverse it all, if not too late; just by simply voting for a change. Until that happens the masses will have to accept their decisions. Vote for the person, not for a party. Change can only happen from within when common man has had enough!

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