Integrated Resource Plan Town Hall
EWEB’s plan for a clean energy future
In the future, our community will need more clean electricity as people switch to electric vehicles and electric heating and cooling. How will EWEB meet this need?
We’re developing a plan called an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to ensure our community has a sufficient supply of reliable, affordable and renewable electricity for the next 20 years. During the town hall, we will share the results with you, then answer questions and hear your feedback!
Please join us for EWEB’s IRP Town Hall
Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
EWEB’s Roosevelt Operations Center at 4200 Roosevelt Blvd, Eugene, OR 97402
EWEB’s 2022 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) forecasts EWEB's future electricity needs and assesses which mix of energy resources might best fit those needs. This will help us create useful insights for long-term (20-year) electricity supply planning decisions. The 2022 IRP will be the first in an iterative, biennial process as EWEB re-assembles an electric supply portfolio for the long-term economic, environmental and social benefit of our community.
We have published an initial public draft of the 2022 IRP, and we encourage you to read it at the links below. This draft is a benchmark to start the conversation: We will continue our analysis process for the first half of 2023. During this time, we want to hear from you. What questions do you have about our initial results that we can answer through further analysis?
After collecting public input, we plan to publish a final draft in June 2023. Then, we will begin work on the next IRP, for 2024.
Eugene City Club: EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson discusses EWEB' draft Integrated Resource Plan
Watch the recording on City Club’s YouTube channel
The energy industry is undergoing enormous change.
In recent years, the cost of batteries, wind and solar generation have declined, making them among the least-cost energy sources available. At the same time, there continue to be substantial hurdles to integrating these resources into the electric grid in an efficient, cost-effective way. Dispatchable, flexible fossil fuel resources face tighter and tighter constraints, and transmission availability is anticipated to be a key limitation as new renewable generation is added to the grid to meet increasing demand.
To navigate this volatile energy landscape, EWEB’s 2022 Integrated Resource Plan forecasts EWEB’s energy demands and examines a variety of energy resources that may fit those future needs. As EWEB’s current contracts expire over the next two to eight years, EWEB will need to decide how to procure the energy that we serve to our customers.
The results in this document include a reference case – the first version of a potential energy portfolio. The reference case is not an ideal or preferred portfolio. Rather, it’s a comparison point. EWEB analysts drew clear parameters to define boundaries, and assumptions, including abiding by EWEB’s Climate Change Policy, which states that our energy will be 95% carbon-free by 2030. We had our modeling software test different resources and select a portfolio that can meet EWEB’s future energy needs at the lowest cost, within the boundaries.
To generate this portfolio, a team of EWEB analysts and external consultants worked to define a set of assumptions about future resource costs, inflation, regulatory standards, transmission availability and market conditions, among other factors. As we discovered during the modeling process, if you shift the assumptions, a new suggested portfolio arises. Thus, testing these assumptions will provide insight into the future resiliency of our resource decisions.
Though the details of our analysis will change as we continue modeling, we can begin to see a few key themes emerge:
EWEB’s energy load will grow. In the past few decades, EWEB’s energy load has remained flat, despite population growth. We expect this trend to change. Electrification is happening. Massive investments in electric vehicles and electric heating and cooling will add more demand to the grid. It’s not a question of if, but rather how much and how soon.
Legacy hydropower is a good fit. EWEB has relied on hydropower from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and our own projects for many decades, and for good reason. It’s a cheap, carbon- free resource that can be dispatched at a moment’s notice to meet our customer’s demand. We will start evaluating BPA’s 2028 product options in our next IRP, which we plan to publish in 2024. We will also test the sensitivity of hydro to climate changes and further fish and wildlife-driven operational constraints.
Wind and batteries offer a possible viable path forward. The reference case suggests that EWEB pursue a buildout of batteries, paired with new wind resources. This makes sense. In the greater Northwest, wind is an abundant renewable resource that generally produces power during the same seasons we have peak needs. And utility-scale batteries will help smooth gaps in that power generation.
We need to develop customer programs responsive to our energy needs. Utilities around the country are developing innovative projects and policies that partner with customer to reduce demand for electricity. Some shave peak demand through demand response programs and time-of-use rates. Others use novel rate structures to ensure that the cost of maintaining and improving the grid is equitably shared. We will need to explore similar innovations as we begin to understand our individual customer’s electricity loads better.
We have a multitude of questions about possible energy portfolios that we want to explore and that will help EWEB sail towards this new energy future. Using the reference case as a baseline, we will adjust our inputs and assumptions and use the model to answer questions such as:
We are excited to begin exploring these questions throughout the first half of 2023, and we want to know what questions you, our customer-owners, want us to explore. We’ll continue the modeling process, and we’ll continue generating results for our community to learn about and discuss.
We encourage you to read the report and tell us what you think. We are looking forward to charting our path to a future of clean, reliable and affordable energy.
CEO & General Manager
We've published an initial public draft of the 2022 IRP, but the analysis process is ongoing. We have lots more questions we want to answer about Eugene's energy future, and we're sure you do, too. We want to hear from you! Please submit your questions and comments here.
Stay informed via email! Sign up to recieve periodic updates here.
We're also taking our initial results on the road for more tailored presentations and dialogues. Does your group, organization or association want to schedule a presentation or meeting? To learn more, reach out to Aaron Orlowski at email@example.com.
News media coverage:
City Club of Eugene (Jan. 22, 2023): EWEB’s Plan for Getting Us the Electricity We Need (KLCC recording)
KVAL (Jan. 20, 2023): EWEB forecasting electricity demand in Eugene
KEZI (Jan. 20, 2023): Eugene Water and Electric Board gives the rundown on its plan for the future
OPB's Think Out Loud (Jan. 4, 2023): Planning for Eugene’s power needs
KEZI (Jan. 3, 2023): EWEB has plan to provide enough energy for electric cars
Register-Guard (Dec. 21, 2022): "EWEB looking for input as it plans for energy future, draft suggests wind, batteries"
KEZI (Dec. 16, 2022): "EWEB plots roadmap for Eugene’s energy future"
KLCC (Oct. 26, 2022): "KLCC's Oregon Rainmakers: Frank Lawson, General Manager of the Eugene Water & Electric Board"
EWEB coverage and resources:
Press release: EWEB publishes first draft of roadmap to Eugene’s reliable, affordable and clean energy future (12/14/22)
Electricity Supply Planning: A comprehensive overview of EWEB's electricity supply planning process
Climate Change Policy: EWEB has committed to a target to provide customers with energy that is more than 95 percent derived from carbon-free resources by 2030 to the extent possible and practical without distinct adverse impacts to customer-owners.
Additional memos from 2022:
12/06/22 Board of Commissioners memo: IRP initial public draft and public engagement memo
11/15/22 Board of Commissioners memo: Reference Modeling Results in the 2022 IRP
08/02/22 Board of Commissioners memo: Resource Profiles & Performance
04/05/22 Board of Commissioners memo: EWEB’s Electricity Consumption Profile and Forecasting
02/01/22 Board of Commissioners memo: Principles and 2022 Roadmap
Agendas will be posted as they become available.
March 2023 Board of Commissioners meeting
June 2023 Board of Commissioners meeting
December 2022 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (correspondence item)
November 2022 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (item #2)
August 2022 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (item #8)
April 2022 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (item #13)
February 2022 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (item #11)
Why are Integrated Resource Plans important?
How does the climate crisis affect resource planning for EWEB and the Northwest?
The climate crisis affects our resource planning in a variety of separate ways, some of which are very difficult to quantify. Hotter temperatures could affect EWEB’s electricity load as more people use air conditioning during the summer. Less precipitation might change reduce flows on the rivers that EWEB depends on for hydropower. Unfortunately, the exact nature of these changes will be hard to predict. But we can be fairly certain that increasing regulations on greenhouse gas emissions will affect energy markets. Even though EWEB gets hardly any energy from coal, the retirement of coal plants across the Northwest will shake up energy markets.
Are we considering the impacts of climate change in this IRP cycle?
We are. This IRP cycle will consider the impacts of climate change in terms of:
In addition, the Board recently amended the SD15 Climate Change Policy to support a low-carbon electric power portfolio that maintains, on a planning basis, over 90% of annual energy from carbon-free resources and targets over 95% of annual energy from carbon-free resources by 2030.
What criteria will be used to evaluate power resource options?
EWEB’s modeling process involves several steps. At the front end, we have instituted constraints that set the outer limits of a possible resource portfolio. One constraint, for instance, is that the portfolio must abide by EWEB’s Climate Change Policy, which targets 95% carbon-free resources by 2030. We then have the modeling software solve for the “least-cost” option, meaning it will generate the portfolio falls within the constraints and is also the most affordable.
While we may wish that there were a perfect resource – zero carbon, always reliable, abundant and affordable – that doesn’t exist. Every resource has tradeoffs. Some portfolios may be more affordable, but may carry more financial risk. Others may result in lower carbon emissions, but come at a higher cost. EWEB’s Board of Commissioners will have to weigh these tradeoffs as we chart our energy future.
Why don’t we just install more solar panels?
The IRP modeling process looks at many possible future energy resources that fit EWEB’s needs, including solar. The IRP will help EWEB’s Board of Commissioners evaluate the tradeoffs between different resources to find the ones that best meet our criteria. Solar is a carbon-free energy source with low environmental impacts. But it’s also an intermittent resource – we can’t always rely on it when we need it – and it produces less energy when EWEB’s needs are highest, which is during the dark winter months. Our initial modeling results picked wind over solar, most likely because wind generates much more energy than solar during times when EWEB has the greatest need – the cold, dark winter months.
Climate change is going to reduce snowpack and water resources. How do we know that hydropower will be a viable resource in the future?
It’s true that climate change is likely to reduce mountain snowpack and water availability on the river systems that EWEB depends on for hydropower. Climate change is expected to impact the timing of water runoff, with more in the spring and less in the summer. But despite the severity of the climate crisis, those changes will be gradual, allowing EWEB and the rest of the utilities in the Northwest significant time to analyze the changes and adapt. Hydropower remains one of the best sources of carbon-free energy available to EWEB and most likely will for years to come. Incorporating these runoff forecasts is something we might model in the next round of the IRP, in 2024.
How will electric vehicles and other potential electrification be considered in the IRP?
We forecast that greater adoption of electric vehicles and electric space and water heating will cause our energy needs to increase. This is something we determined prior to starting the IRP. In 2020, EWEB conducted an electrification study to examine how the transition from fossil fuel-powered technologies to electric technologies would affect EWEB. The study looked closely at light-duty vehicles and space and water heating, and the results are being fed into the IRP.
In general, the electrification study found that the financial benefits of electrifying will prompt EWEB customers to transition to electric vehicles in the coming years. The financial benefits of electrifying with heat pump water heaters will also prompt customers to switch, but space heating electrification is less likely, based on the finances. Today, EWEB has enough generation and transmission capacity to handle the anticipated levels of electrification within the next few years, and these transitions will be slow at first. At the same time, EWEB will need to explore ways to encourage customers to charge their electric vehicles during off-peak times so that EWEB’s peak energy needs don’t substantially increase.
Why are carbon emissions from EWEB’s electricity so much lower than emissions from the national electricity sector?
EWEB gets most of our electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency that sells energy at cost to utilities around the Northwest from 31 hydroelectric dams in the region. Hydropower is more abundant in the Northwest than any other region in the United States, and is carbon-free, resulting in significantly lower emissions. Some other utilities in Oregon don’t get as much of their electricity from BPA, and consequently have higher emissions from their energy sources.
Why are we conducting an analysis about the Leaburg Canal outside of the IRP?
Ongoing problems with the structural integrity of the Leaburg Canal are requiring us to make certain decisions about it before we have concluded the relevant parts of the IRP process. Fortunately, we’re able to conduct a standalone analysis of the replacement value of the Leaburg energy generation resource.
The IRP analysis and Leaburg analysis also serve different purposes. The IRP looks at EWEB’s entire energy system to identify future gaps between resources and electricity loads under different conditions, and it evaluates the types of resources that could fill those gaps. The Leaburg analysis requires greater details about the costs and benefits of various options for remediating the canal – not just the project’s potential as an energy resource.
EWEB’s IRP is focused on the narrow question of how electric demand or load is best met over time with a mix of generation resources. Although the Leaburg project is certainly a generation project, it is also much more – a recreation asset, part of the region’s watershed and flood control systems, and a holder of community value in other ways. In order to correctly value the project, a broader and more inclusive analysis is needed than is possible through a generation-focused IRP process. On the other hand, findings and discussion about the Leaburg analysis could certainly be summarized and documented in the next IRP, as many stakeholders will look there for information about the EWEB plants.
How will customer input be used in the IRP?
We’ve published an initial public draft of the IRP, and we encourage you to check out our results. The energy resource portfolio in the draft is just one option – a benchmark – and we are continuing our analysis process from January to June 2023. During this time, we want to hear from customers. What questions do you have about our initial results that we can answer through further analysis?
We will do our best to incorporate as many questions as possible in our next phase of analysis. In June, we’ll publish our final, and then we’ll start the process again for the 2024 IRP.