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A Seat in the House

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A Seat in the House

Annual energy summit

As I have mentioned in previous articles I am one of Idaho’s legislative representatives on the Pacific Northwest Region.

PNWER is a public-private partnership chartered by the states of Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Canadian Yukon and Northwest Territories.

PNWER provides a cross-border forum for dealing with issues of economic and environmental importance to the Pacific Northwest region on both sides of the border.

The organization’s goals are to:

• Promote greater regional cooperation.

• Enhance the competiveness of the region in both domestic and international markets.

• Leverage the region’s influence in Washington D.C. and Ottawa

•Achieve continued economic growth while maintaining the region’s natural beauty and environment.

PNWER provides results on regional issues through action plans formulated by more than 14 working groups. I am Co-Chair of the Energy II working group along with Paul Manson, President of Sea Breeze Power Corporation.

PNWER just completed this year’s Annual Summit on July 20 at Calgary, Alberta. During this annual summit fourteen working groups met and developed action items to pursue over the course of next year.

The Energy II working group addressed the increasing emphasis on renewable energy (such as wind and solar) as a priority in meeting the region’s electrical energy needs and the increasing need for additional transmission facilities to integrate renewable energy production into the regional and international transmission grid.

Steve Wright, Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, has stated, “integrating renewables is the challenge of our time!”

A large amount of this renewable resource is wind and our Pacific Northwest region will be attempting to integrate over 4000 Megawatts of wind in the near term and the challenges associated with integrating this resource to provide a reliable and firm energy supply are significant.

Most significant is the challenge to our regional and international electric transmission system. Our session included a roundtable discussion with legislative energy chairs, provincial ministers of energy and private sector energy representatives focusing on the transmission challenge.

This included a discussion of the non-firm nature of wind. The wind does not blow all the time so we attempted to address what actions might be helpful to “firm-up” our region’s wind energy resource.

This included a discussion of what transmission facilities might be needed, what electrical storage options are available and are energy exchanges across jurisdictions a viable option?

Given that any strategy for firming up wind-power “requires additional transmission facilities the question of “how do we overcome obstacles to construction of new facilities?” became a major part of the discussion. 

Cross jurisdictions and bi-national permitting has become a real challenge with different permitting processes within the individual jurisdictions that is even more complicated by federal regulations in both countries.

PNWER has no legislative authority but its success in dealing with regional issues has been through its ability to provide the public and private sectors a cross-border forum for unfiltered dialog that can result in other responsible entities developing legislative or corporate actions to solve regional issues.

Given this our working group developed the following PNWER action items to pursue over the course of next year:

1. Promote increased cooperation among regulatory bodies by inviting regulatory agencies to meet with policy makers at the PNWER meeting in November to discuss:

(a) How to allocate the cost of integrating, balancing, firming and capacity ownership of renewable resources. (b) How do the regulators make their decisions within the context of other regulatory decisions made elsewhere in the region? (c) What are the obstacles they are concerned with and suggestions they might have for new legislative solutions.

2. Invite members of the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), the Northwest Independent Power Producers Council (NIPPC), and the Independent Power Producers of British Columbia (IPPBC) to have a dialogue about a Renewable Energy Exchange at the PNWER winter meeting.

3. Initiate a dialogue within the PNWER region on what mutual benefits the region has in transactions with California.

These actions will be pursued over the course of the next few months in an effort to help solve some of the region’s concerns in utilizing renewable resources in meeting our region’s electrical energy needs. There are significant issues and challenges in meeting our energy resource needs, but by public and private entities working together we can solve these issues and challenges.  

Thanks for reading and as always please contact me with issues of concern. My mailing address is P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho 83825 and my home phone is 208-265-01233.


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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

Tagged as:

energy, wind power, PNWER, renewable energy

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