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Conduit ED #1: “Paying from a Single Wallet:” Setting the Stage for the Power Act

Created 5/3/2016 by Conduit ED
Updated 5/3/2016 by Conduit Admininistrator
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Welcome to the Conduit Ed Power Planning Series!

Week 1: “Paying from a Single Wallet:” Setting the Stage for how and why the Power Act was Born

The Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act (Power Act) of 1980 created the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (Council) and requires the Council to develop a twenty-year plan to ensure an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply for the region. Working with regional partners and the public, the Council evaluates energy resources and their costs, electricity demand, and new technologies to determine a resource strategy for the region. Member states of the organization are Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.Sounds simple to us, but it wasn’t always so straightforward…. this unique piece of legislation has a quite storied history. It involves fish and wildlife, public interest groups, Wall Street, a volatile political and economic landscape… and toilets with a Cuisinart at the ends!

To tell this story firsthand, we talked with the Council’s Tom Eckman, who has been involved in developing each of the region’s seven power plans:

So there wasn’t one event that triggered the legislation. Power prices were very high in the Northwest. The dams had had a big impact on fish runs and environmentalists were unhappy. Energy demand was expected to skyrocket, and utilities had the obligation to serve their customers with reliable electricity. Neither coal nor nuclear plants were popular choices. Inflation was high. There were large defaults on the planned generation projects. The public was starting to demand involvement.

Together, these forces created a perfect storm. In this video, Tom discusses the political, economic and environmental forces that drove the creation of the Power Act:

Next week, we’ll look at how newly formed Council approached formalizing the power planning process.

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