FW: Announcing My Spring Course on Northwest Energy Policy and the Columbia River
PSU is offering this great course on NW Energy Policy for interested folks.
Northwest Energy Policy and the Columbia River
Reviewing the history, politics and institutions influencing current energy policy and Columbia River management issues in the Pacific Northwest.
This seminar explores the extraordinary changes taking place in the realm of energy policy and their implications for the Northwest electric utility industry, its consumers, the economy, the Columbia River, salmon, and the environment. This seminar is designed to serve graduate students, mid-career professionals who are already working in the field who are interested in their professional development, and others interested in advancing their careers or just learning more about this fascinating subject. This participant mix leads to lively and informative class discussions. In fact, by participating in this class, employers have identified and recruited future employees and graduate students have found good jobs.
We begin by examining the origins and history of Northwest energy policy. We explore the reasons behind the development of an unusually strong federal role in energy policy within the Columbia Basin, the politics behind the creation of the Bonneville Power Administration, the negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty between the US and Canada, the passage of the Northwest Power and Conservation Act of 1980, the role of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and other significant recent developments and controversies affecting the Northwest’s electric power industry. Next we invite some of the Northwest’s top energy policy makers and analysts to discuss and debate many of the most important “hot” policy topics” currently under discussion, and explore their implications for the future of the region’s economy and vitality of the Columbia River ecosystem.
Instructor: Jeff Hammarlund, plus many guest speakers
Dates & Times: Thursdays, April 5 - June 14; 6:40 - 9:30 PM
Location: URBN 204
PSU Students: Register online. Students from Urban and Public Affairs should use CRN 65588. All other PSU students should use CRN 65796. 3 graduate credits
Taken from course website:
Examine the origins and history of Northwest energy policy.
During the first half of the class we will explore the reasons behind the development of an unusually strong federal role in energy policy within the Columbia Basin, the politics behind the creation of the Bonneville Power Administration, the negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty, the passage of the Northwest Power Act of 1980, the role of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and significant recent developments and controversies affecting the Northwest’s electric power industry.
Engage with a stellar list of guest speakers to explore current policy issues and debates.
During the second half of the class we will invite some of the Northwest’s top energy policy makers and analysts to join us to discuss and debate some of the most important “hot topics” currently under discussion, and explore their implications for the future of the region’s economy and vitality of the Columbia River ecosystem. We will make our final decisions on the topics we want to explore during the first two weeks of class and invite the guest speakers based on our choices.
However, it is likely that our choices will include some or all of the following candidate topics. Excellent guest speakers should be available to help us explore each of these issues.
- Help establish Oregon’s Ten-Year Energy Plan. Governor Kitzhaber has created a task force and established a public involvement process to create a Ten-Year Energy Plan for Oregon. The goal is to recommend to the Governor a coordinated set of actions that can: reduce our dependence on carbon-intensive fuels and foreign oil; develop home-grown renewable energy resources, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; improve energy efficiency and create rewarding local job; and boost Oregon’s economy through investment and education. The public will have an opportunity to offer suggestions this spring. Course participants will be able to hear from task force members and offer your recommendations to the Governor’s energy advisors.
- Learn how the Northwest is supporting more wind generation and other renewable energy options and the challenges we must overcome to achieve even more windpower. Wind power is a zero-emission energy resource with no fuel costs, but it is also quite variable and less predictable than traditional energy resource options. This increases the need for more flexible resources or loads to keep the grid balanced. Historically, our hydro system has served that role. However, our rivers must also support objectives and uses, so there is not enough hydro reserves available to support all the wind resources. Currently, almost 10% of the Northwest’s electricity comes form wind. If we want to increase the role of wind and other renewables even further, the Northwest must explore a host of new energy storage options and find new ways to “green up” the make the electric grid. We will explore many of these “cutting edge” approaches. For example, we will examine the roles that the Western Interconnections’ regional transmission organizations (including ColumbiaGrid, the Northern Tier Transmission Group, and WestConnect) can play, the emergence of the smart grid, demand response, distributed generation, energy imbalance markets, dynamic scheduling, and other strategies.
- Appreciate the vital role that energy efficiency continues to play in the New Energy Economy. In the Northwest, the efficiency of electricity improved by 254 average megawatts in 2010, the last year for which data is available. That’s the biggest one-year gain since regional energy-efficiency programs began more than 30 years ago. The measures implemented in that one year saved Northwest electricity ratepayers $135 million and will produce the same amount of savings every year for at leas the next 15-20 years. With the 2010 savings, the regional total since 1978, when energy-efficiency programs began in the Northwest, tops 4,600 average megawatts – enough power for four cities the size of Seattle. These encouraging numbers are the result of hard work from a very robust energy efficiency community that includes the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Energy Trust of Oregon, BPA, regional utilities, and many consulting, design and construction firms. What is not so clear is the precise reasons behind this success. What lessons can we learn from 2010’s stellar results? We will also address future funding concerns for energy efficiency and low-income weatherization and new approaches and delivery mechanisms for the cleanest energy resource
- Explore how possible changes to the Columbia River Treaty might affect Northwest energy policy. About a third of the water in Columbia River comes from British Columbia, so the Columbia River Treaty between the US and Canada has a huge impact on the Columbia River is operated for hydro, flood control, salmon habitat and other uses of the Great River of the West. We are rapidly approaching the time when either county can decide whether to terminate, modify, or continue the treaty. We will invite experts from both the US and Canada to help us understand the options and their implications.
- Investigate the latest developments in energy resource planning at the regional and local utility levels. At the regional level, energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions are at the heart of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s latest 20-year regional plan The Northwest’s official energy plan calls for meeting 85% of the region’s new electricity needs from energy efficiency and all the rest with renewable energy resources. This is the first time this unique 30-year old agency has developed a plan that would result in no net increase in the Northwest power system’s carbon emissions. At the utility level, Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp are developing their next integrated resource plans. One of the fascinating issues for PGE to address its transition planning now that the utility has agreed to shut down its Boardman coal plant in 2020. PacifiCorp is now considering the future of its fleet of coal plants.
- Understand the latest developments in the continuing struggle over competing visions of the Columbia River’s primary role: is the Columbia a “working river” that gives priority to human needs through hydropower, irrigation, navigation and other economic services, or a “natural river” that places a higher priority on the needs salmon and other fish and wildlife? Both ocean conditions and salmon survival rates are improving and progress is being made on fish restoration efforts under the 2010 Columbia Basin Fish Accords. However, last summer, for the third time in nearly a decade, federal judge James Redden rejected as inadequate the latest federal salmon plan. Redden called on the federal government to produce a new or supplemental plan by the beginning of 2014; the 82-year-old judge also announced that he would retire prior to that date to allow another judge will take over the case. Salmon experts from federal agencies, tribes, and advocacy groups will help us sort out what is next for salmon recovery and our hydro system.
Two optional field trips will also be available in June after the class is officially over.