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EWEB Shares Preliminary Results of Electrification Impact Analysis Report

August 11, 2020

Young woman holding a cell phone and plugging in her electric car

Eugene Water & Electric Board is exploring the impacts of widespread electrification on our community. The analysis is intended to address a growing interest in understanding the relationship between fossil fuels and electricity and potential transitions to address climate change.

Phase 1 of EWEB's Electrification Impact Analysis Report focuses on electrification of small vehicles, and domestic water and space heating.

"The context for EWEB doing this study is that climate change strategies around the country and locally tend to focus on electrifying transportation and buildings as a way to meet goals," Chief Energy Officer Susan Ackerman told EWEB Commissioners during the Aug. 4 Board meeting.

At the public meeting, which streamed live online due to the coronavirus pandemic, EWEB presented preliminary results of Phase 1 of the study, including the following key findings:

  1. Absent legislative action or dramatic economic changes driving consumer behavior towards electrification, average electric energy loads will increase at a manageable pace in the next five years.

  1. Early analysis indicates that resulting carbon reductions are meaningful and enhanced with energy efficient technology choices, and these benefits can be improved if peak demand is managed. 

  1. Electric Vehicles represent a significant carbon reduction opportunity and load impact compared to space and water heating.

  1. The EWEB transmission and distribution system is forecasted to maintain adequate capacity and ability to meet the increased demand of electrification in the near term.

Under the highest forecasted electrification rates, EWEB could experience load growth of 54 aMW (around 20 percent increase) by 2050. The potential carbon savings by 2030 is around 109,000 MTCO2e.

"What we are learning in this first phase of this study is that EWEB is well-situated to assist the community with climate goals," said Susan Ackerman, noting that these preliminary results represent early findings which are subject to change between now and final publication, scheduled for fall 2020.

Relating potential carbon savings to City of Eugene CAP 2.0

Eugene's Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2.0 sets a goal of reducing community carbon emissions by 790,000 MTCO2e by 2030 and identifies a series of actions that will reduce our community's carbon footprint. But the CAP 2.0 actions alone do not reach the 2030 target. 

The early results of EWEB's electrification study indicate that aggressive conversion of light-duty vehicles and residential and commercial space and water heating plays a limited role in closing this gap.

"The good news here is that electrification really does lead to carbon savings," said Susan Ackerman. "But even assuming a high level of electrification there is still quite a gap between what we could achieve in terms of carbon reductions and the City of Eugene's climate action goals."

Put another way, EVs and electric space and water heating are only one small part of the solution.

In the coming months, EWEB will refine our assumptions and early estimates that are reflected in the preliminary Phase 1 study. This will include discussions with City of Eugene staff to better understand the basis for EV-related carbon reductions in the CAP 2.0 report.

Further study planned on community solar, regional grid impacts

Three members of the public, including two volunteers with the group 350 Eugene, provided testimony related to the electrification study during the Public Input portion of the Aug. 4 Board meeting. Two comments encouraged studying the impact of solar PV adoption on EWEB's Electricity Supply Planning efforts, and the third comment related to the potential impacts of local electrification on regional greenhouse gas emissions.

Susan Ackerman clarified that these issues will be addressed in later phases of this work, which will include:

  • Phase 1 Final Report—to be published in the fall of 2020, and will include more study of peak load scenarios and a deeper dive into power portfolio impacts.
  • Electrification Impact Study Phase 2—will focus on infrastructure, costs and influence of energy efficiency and demand-side flexibility and is targeted for completion in early 2021.
  • Integrated Resource Planning—will help EWEB make decisions about long-term power generation resources and will be next updated in 2023.

Developing a multi-use analytical model

One important outcome of the Electrification Impact Analysis is an analytical model that the utility can use for all resource planning and community decarbonization efforts.

"One of the things that this type of modeling and effort will help with is understanding power resource adequacy issues in the northwest under certain conditions, such as low hydrogeneration, coal plant retirements, and growth in local solar generation," said EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson. "In the next phases of this work, we are going to look at different scenarios and changes to the electric supply side going forward, including characteristics and carbon intensity, both of which will look very different by 2050."

VIEW THE PRESENTATION: If you didn't catch the live stream of the Board presentation and discussion, you can view it here (approximately 40 minutes long).

READ THE FULL REPORT: We have posted the complete draft preliminary report online.

FIND RELATED NEWS AND INFORMATION: Visit our Electricity Supply Planning website to learn more about our efforts to understand the resources, technology, and infrastructure that will be needed to meet customers' future electricity needs.