Puget Sound Energy Files Two Draft ?Request for Proposals? with UTC

The two draft Request For Proposals (RFPs), both filed with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, are part of the utility’s continuing efforts to meet the energy needs of a Western Washington service area predicted to add 1 million more residents over the next 20 years.

“The current economic slump has only temporarily softened the demand for energy,” said Kimberly Harris, PSE executive vice president and chief resource officer. “Long term, we expect population growth and economic growth to substantially increase our region’s energy requirements. And for PSE, the most cost-effective, environmentally responsible way to meet this need is with energy efficiency, renewable power, and clean-burning natural gas-fired generation.”

Regional growth, the expiration of large purchased-power contracts in coming years and the potential retirement of aging PSE power plants are the principal drivers behind the utility’s need for additional power supplies. PSE’s recently updated Integrated Resource Plan estimates that the utility will need nearly 1,100 megawatts (MW) of new electricity supply by winter 2016-17 to meet customers’ peak demand. That need grows to approximately 5,000 MW by 2029 – almost triple the peak winter demand of a city the size of Seattle.

The first of PSE’s two RFPs seeks to enhance PSE’s already aggressive programs for helping customers use less energy. The utility’s 2009 Integrated Resource Plan estimates that energy-efficiency services to customers could save PSE more than 530 average-MWs of electricity over the next 20 years. Those savings, sufficient to offset the electricity requirements of 400,000 households, would forestall the need to build four average-sized natural gas-fired power plants.

The updated resource plan also identifies 90 million therms of achievable natural-gas savings by PSE customers, enough to satisfy the total gas needs of 108,000 households. The draft energy-efficiency RFP filed today will invite qualified firms to offer services that complement or improve upon PSE’s existing energy-saving programs involving rebates and grants to residential, commercial and industrial customers.

The RFP for new power supplies (“All-Source RFP”) will ask outside power producers, marketers, and power-plant developers to help PSE procure approximately 1,000 MW of new electricity resources by 2016. While PSE anticipates energy efficiency, renewable power and gas-fired generation will be its dominant sources of new power supply in coming years, the RFP will consider any viable power-supply offering or technology that can be in operation by 2016. PSE will consider various contract arrangements, such as investment in existing power plants, ownership of new plants, or long-term power purchases.

PSE has obtained more than 1,600 MW of long-term power resources over the past four years – much of it through previous RFP processes. The acquisitions include PSE’s development of large wind-power facilities in Central Washington (Wild Horse) and Southeast Washington (Hopkins Ridge), the purchase of three natural gas-fired power plants in the state (Goldendale, Sumas and Mint Farm), and a long-term hydropower-purchase contract with the Chelan County Public Utility District. PSE also has constructed the Northwest’s largest solar-power generating installation at PSE’s Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, near Ellensburg.

The public has 60 days to submit written comments to the UTC on the proposed RFPs. PSE will hold a public meeting on Oct. 29 at the utility’s Bellevue headquarters to provide more information to prospective RFP respondents and field their questions. Following the public comment period and commission review, PSE plans to formally issue the RFPs early next year.

The draft RFPs filed today can be viewed on PSE’s Web site (www.pse.com) under the “Energy & Environment” tab, then Energy Supply/Resource Acquisition.

Washington state’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and nearly 750,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties. A subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE meets the energy needs of its growing customer base through incremental, cost-effective energy conservation, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service and delivering energy that is safe, reliable, reasonably priced, and environmentally responsible.