‘1-in-4 chance’ of power shortage

  • KATHY DAY / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, November 7, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News


Herald Writer

EVERETT — The Northwest stands a 24 percent chance it will not be able to meet its energy needs by winter 2003, an energy official told Snohomish County PUD commissioners Wednesday.

Dick Watson, director of the Power Division of the Northwest Power Planning Council, outlined a council report on the adequacy of the county’s power supply during Tuesday’s board meeting. He also spoke to the Everett Rotary.

He called the probability of an energy shortfall "unacceptably high" and told commissioners that utility officials need to think differently about conservation as they plan for the future.

"We have to reinvigorate conservation," Watson said.

Higher prices and technology advances bring greater potential for conservation to be effective, he said, and commissioners must take a different approach to valuing it.

He also stressed the need for plans to be in place for this winter. Watson said the focus should be on actions that avert problems in the event of a "Siberian express" and poor water conditions.

Watson cited this summer’s energy market — which had San Diego residents paying three times as much for electricity in July as they had in June — as an example of potential problems.

It took a combination of California’s situation, high temperatures, water conditions and forced outages as well as uncertainty over deregulation of the industry, he said, to get this region’s attention.

He encouraged the commission to look closely at how it protects itself against risks of shortage and volatility by using such measures as signing longer term contracts to protect the utility from price pressures and encouraging development of new sources of power generation.

Other points he stressed included looking at options for new generating sources such as natural gas-fired turbines and developing data for monitoring and evaluating the energy market’s performance.

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