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Where is EWEB in planning our future electricity supply?

September 26, 2023 Aaron Orlowski, EWEB Communications

For the last 18 months, EWEB has been studying how we can best meet the community’s future electricity needs.

This Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process has generated significant community discussion about Eugene’s electricity future – which is a good thing!

In August, we reached a milestone: EWEB’s five-member elected Board of Commissioners approved an action plan to guide us for the next 2-3 years. (Check out the Eugene Weekly op-ed by EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson that sums up the IRP study and action plan.)

The short story is that even though electricity demand will rise, EWEB doesn’t need to procure any additional resources for at least a few years. So, we’ll spend that time conducting future studies and preparing for the 2025 IRP, since we’re publishing a new IRP every two years.

For more details, read on!

How did we arrive here?

In December 2022, we published an initial public draft of the IRP. The modeling results in the draft indicated that if future conditions are moderate, then we can largely meet those electricity needs with a foundation of hydropower (which we already have) plus new wind farms and new utility-scale batteries.

In June 2023, we announced additional modeling results that indicated that if demand rises more dramatically, then we may need to look at adding in additional low- and zero-carbon, on-demand resources (plus the resources mentioned above). In our modeling results these additional resources showed up as biomass and small modular nuclear reactors, though other emerging technologies such as geothermal may be able to fill the same need.

Note: These were modeling results, not procurement plans. To create the modeling results, we used advanced software to generate portfolios of possible energy resources that align with EWEB’s core values. Portfolios had to be reliable and avoid blackouts – meeting peak demand, which occurs in the winter. Portfolios had to be affordable – keeping rates low by being the lowest cost option. And portfolios had to be environmentally responsible – 95% carbon-free, in accordance with EWEB’s climate change policy.

In July and August 2023, EWEB’s Board of Commissioners discussed then approved an IRP action plan for the next 2-3 years. None of the action items involve procuring new resources. In fact, one of the action items is to develop a formal resource procurement strategy, because we need a strategy and method before we can actually procure anything.

Other action items include conducting studies of the potential for more conservation and new demand response programs in Eugene. Another action item is prepping for the 2025 IRP by updating our data and inputs. Assuming good pricing data for geothermal becomes available in the next two years, we’re hopeful we can model that resource in the 2025 IRP. There will be a lot of other updates, too, including pricing updates that incorporate Inflation Reduction Act funding.

More information

Our power supply
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Learn more about where your electricity comes from.

Integrated Resource Plan
Integrated Resource Planning Process

Integrated Resource Planning Process

EWEB’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) will analyze possible energy resource portfolios with a goal of creating useful insights for long-term (20-year) electricity supply planning decisions.

Understanding peak power
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Managing peak electricity demand is a critical component of achieving climate recovery goals and keeping energy affordable for all customers.