Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tacoma Power IRP 2013 Process

Tacoma Power started the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process for 2013. IRP is a strategic planning process electric and gas utilities use to estimate short and long-term growth and decide on the best mix of resources to address that growth.

The primary purpose of IRP’s is to “[a]ssess whether there is a need to acquire additional resources to meet projected retail demand”, as well as to “[d]etermine the combination of new resources that are the most cost-effective and impose the least risk” (Metcalf, 2013, p.2). IRP’s also include the plan’s programming, implementation, and evaluation, and must be updated by September 1 of even years according to RCW 19.280.

Tacoma Power serves more than 160,000 customers, stretching beyond Tacoma across Pierce and King Counties, to University Place, Fircrest, portions of Fife, Lakewood, Federal Way, Steilacoom, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and as far south as Roy. Tacoma Power’s primary resource for electricity generation is hydropower, which made up over 93 percent of its fuel mix in 2011 (Metcalf, 2013, p. 10).

Tacoma Power’s 2013 IRP focuses on three critical areas. First, how much conservation should Tacoma Power pursue in 2014/2015? Next, what approach should Tacoma Power take for complying with Tacoma Power’s 2016 and 2020 I-937 Renewable Portfolio Standard Requirements? And finally, what future energy and capacity portfolio best conforms to the needs of the utility and consumers?

While hydro is a renewable resource, unfortunately it is not considered an “eligible” resource for Washington’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, I-937. Therefore, Tacoma Power must seek alternative, eligible, renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, incremental hydro, biomass, landfill gas, ocean (wave/tidal), bio diesel, or renewable energy credits (REC’s).

In this year’s first public meeting, Tacoma Power staff informed stakeholders of the IRP process and sought stakeholder input. There will be additional opportunities for public involvement in May, September, and October.

Metcalf, T. (2013). 2013 IRP stakeholder presentation 1. Tacoma, WA: Tacoma Power.

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