EWEB’s 2023 Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process forecasts EWEB's future electricity needs and assesses possible mixes of energy resources to best fit those needs. This will help us create useful insights for long-term (20-year) electricity supply planning decisions. The 2023 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 the 2023 IRP, and we encourage you to read it at the links below. This draft is a benchmark to start the conversation: Every two years, we will publish a new version based on new insights and updated information. As we continue to develop plans for Eugene's energy future, we want to hear from you. What questions do you have about our results that we can answer through further analysis?
Planning for a Reliable, Affordable, Green Energy Future: EWEB's Journey to Reassemble an Electric Generation Portfolio
Eugene City Club: EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson discusses EWEB' draft Integrated Resource Planning process
Watch the recording on City Club’s YouTube channel
Letter from the General Manager
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. But substantial hurdles remain in integrating these resources into the electric grid in an efficient, cost-effective way. Dispatchable, flexible fossil fuel resources face tighter and tighter constraints, with few zero-carbon options to replace their reliable contribution to the grid. Meanwhile, transmission availability will likely be a key limitation as new renewable generation is added to the grid.
To navigate this volatile energy landscape, EWEB’s 2023 Integrated Resource Plan forecasts EWEB’s energy demand 20 years into the future 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, we will need to decide how to procure the energy that we serve to our customers.
EWEB conducted rigorous analysis to generate a set of possible future energy resource portfolios that are adapted to various possible future conditions. None of these are preferred portfolios. Rather, the portfolios offer insights into how varying future conditions affect our energy needs, and options for meeting them.
The first portfolio is a reference case, which is derived from a baseline set of assumptions that the future will largely be an extension of the present. The assumptions address future resource costs, inflation, regulatory standards, transmission availability and market conditions, among other factors. Three additional portfolios tweak those assumptions and explore how EWEB’s energy options shift as future conditions depart from the present in crucial – and increasingly likely – ways.
Every portfolio falls within clear parameters incorporated into the analysis process. EWEB’s analysts designed those parameters to reflect core values of reliability, affordability, and environmental responsibility.
- Reliability: Portfolios must meet our peak needs, which occur during the coldest winter days.
- Affordability: Portfolios must be the least-cost option, within other constraints.
- Environmental responsibility: Portfolios must abide by EWEB’s Climate Change Policy, which states that our energy will be 95% carbon-free by 2030.
The 2023 IRP has yielded several key insights:
Energy demand will rise. Over the past few decades, EWEB’s energy demand 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. Industrial loads may also prompt increases in demand. 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 2025.
Wind and batteries offer one viable path forward. The reference case suggests that EWEB pursue a large 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.
Zero-carbon, dispatchable resources will likely be necessary in the future. Full decarbonization will require us to add a new type of resource to our portfolio – one that is zero-carbon, can dispatch energy on-demand, and has a fuel supply that can last weeks or months. Only this type of resource will allow us to reliably serve electricity when conditions are the most challenging. But the list of options is short.
We need to develop customer programs responsive to our energy needs. Utilities around the country are developing innovative projects and policies that partner with customers 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.
Though we’ve gleaned many insights from months of analysis, we’ve finished this 2023 IRP with more questions than answers. For the moment, we don’t need to procure any new resources. Our first need for energy resources occurs in 2026, but that time will arrive before we know it. We must be ready.
We know that much more work is ahead. To that end, we’ve created a list of action items (see section 3 in the IRP) that will guide us as we continue study, learn, develop new programs and improve our analysis abilities. And we’re already starting on the 2025 IRP, which will analyze product options from BPA.
The IRP process is iterative, and we will continue sharing results with our community as produce them, so we can all learn together and collaborate. We encourage you to read this 2023 report and tell us what you think. Because only together can we chart our path to a future of clean, reliable, and affordable energy.
CEO & General Manager
Ask a question and offer input
We've published 2023 IRP, but the analysis process is ongoing since we will be publishing an updated IRP every two years. We have lots more questions we want to answer about Eugene's energy future in the years ahead, 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 available to share our results during 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 and related resources
EWEB press releases and stories:
News story: Where is EWEB in planning our future electricity supply? (9/26/13)
Press release: EWEB charts energy supply choices for next 2-3 years (7/21/23)
News story: Hydrogen’s decarbonization potential discussed at EWEB Board meeting (6/19/23)
Press release: EWEB could need additional low-carbon, on-demand electricity, new analysis shows (6/15/23)
Press release: EWEB publishes first draft of roadmap to Eugene’s reliable, affordable and clean energy future (12/14/22)
News media coverage:
OPB's Think Out Loud (Sept. 1, 2023): Eugene utility considers nuclear power to meet future electricity needs
Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) Bulletin (Aug. 18, 2023): Planning for reliable, affordable, environmentally responsible energy
Capital Press (Aug. 10, 2023): Experts worry renewables won't keep pace with demand for electricity
Eugene Weekly (Aug. 3, 2023): Planning for a Reliable, Affordable, Green Energy Future: EWEB's Journey to Reassemble an Electric Generation Portfolio
Clearing Up (July 21, 2023): Eugene Water and Electric Board Mulls Ways to Meet Electrification Demands
KEZI (July 21, 2023): EWEB planning for increased demand in electrical energy
KVAL (July 21, 2023): EWEB announces energy supply choices for next 2-3 years
Register-Guard (July 18, 2023): Eugene Water & Electric Board outlines 20-year plan for meeting power demands
OPB (July 9, 2023): Northwest electricity demand is projected to increase 25% in the next decade
Oregon Capital Chronicle (July 6, 2023): Regional electricity demand projected to rise nearly 25% in next decade
KLCC (June 19, 2023): The nuclear option? EWEB looks at choices for low carbon, on-demand power
KVAL (June 16, 2023): EWEB could pursue nuclear, biomass power to meet future demand
KEZI (June 15, 2023): EWEB analysis examines future on-demand energy needs
Oregon Business (Feb. 3, 2023): EWEB Spokesperson on How the Utility is Preparing for Rising Demand
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"
Additional EWEB resources:
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 to the Board of Commissioners:
07/11/23 Board of Commissioners memo: 2023 IRP Results Publication & Action Plan
03/07/23 Board of Commissioners memo: IRP Sensitivity Analysis and Public Engagement Update
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.
August 2023 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (item #8)
July 2023 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (item #9)
March 2023 Board of Commissioners meeting agenda (item #12)
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?
- Providing electricity requires huge, multimillion-dollar investments. Planning helps ensure that those investments make sense for our customers now and in the future.
- An Integrated Resource Plan provides transparency to customers. It shows where the community’s power comes from and gives the public a way to comment on the strategy.
- It’s critical to examine changes in technology, regulations, and customer preferences, and plan for how to best meet our customer needs under a variety of potential futures.
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:
- Possible carbon legislation
- Fuel prices
- Levels of electrification (including EV adoption)
- Carbon impacts of various portfolio options
- Hydro variation
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.
How will customer input be used in the IRP?
We’ve published the 2023, and we encourage you to check out our results. This IRP is the first in an iterative process: We'll be doing a new IRP every two years, with ongoing analysis. So reach out! What questions do you have about our 2023 results that we can answer through further analysis?