Planning Today to Meet Tomorrow’s Needs
Clark Public Utilities is committed to delivering its customers the most reliable and affordable power possible while staying compliant with federal and state laws, being good stewards of the environment, and remaining flexible in an era of rapidly evolving technology and marketplace realities.
The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) helps inform those goals, and outlines what resources the utility needs to meet forecasted energy demands in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible.
About Our IRP
Under the Energy Independence Act 19.280 RCW, all electric utilities with more than 25,000 customers must develop and update resource plans or integrated resource plans and make them publically available every two years. Utilities also must submit the plan to the Washington State Department of Commerce, who then forwards aggregated reports to the state legislature.
Clark Public Utilities is one of 18 utilities in the state that are subject to this law. Those utilities provide 80 percent of the power sold to retail customers in the state.
Clark Public Utilities provides electricity service to more than 203,000 customers throughout Clark County, and water service to about 30,000 homes and businesses in unincorporated areas.
While physical resources like hydroelectric dams and power plants provide the actual electricity consumed in Clark County, Clark Public Utilities also uses energy conservation programs as an energy resource. Simply put: when we conserve electricity locally it reduces the need for additional physical resources and allows the utility to serve more customers and businesses without building more power plants. Often times energy conservation programs can be the most cost effective resource which is why Clark Public Utilities has offered robust conservation programs for the last 40 years.
Historically, Clark Public Utilities procures electricity from an array of resources.
- About 63 percent is hydropower purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration
- About 28.5 percent is produced at Clark Public Utilities River Road natural gas-fired generating plant (This percentage might be higher or lower depending on available renewable generation to replace natural gas.)
- 2 percent is produced by coal (Short term spot energy purchases from sellers who generated coal to support the sale in the market)
- 6 percent is produced by nuclear electricity (BPA purchases the output of the Columbia Generating Station located in Richland Washington)
- 0.5 percent is produced by a mix of resources, including biomass, other non-biogenic and petroleum.
Important Considerations and Requirements
Resource planning is one of our most important tasks, as the cost of our power supply requires nearly 65 percent of the electric utility’s budget. Such a large component of our costs requires careful advanced planning to secure the best prices and the most appropriate fuel mix to meet customer needs, with emphasis on sustainability, affordability and reliability.
Fortunately, our area is served largely by clean, renewable hydropower. About two thirds of our supply comes from the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency that markets hydroelectricity created by dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Another third of our power comes from the River Road Generating Plant, a combined-cycle combustion turbine fueled by natural gas. Located in Vancouver, it was completed in 1997.
Among other requirements, the IRP must include:
- A range of 20-year load forecasts;
- An assessment of commercially available conservation and energy efficient resources;
- An assessment of commercially available, utility scale generating technologies, including a “buy versus build” comparison;
- A comparison between renewable and nonrenewable resources;
- An assessment of methods, commercially available technologies, or facilities for integrating renewable resources;
- An assessment of a plan to implement the least expensive resources to meet demand;
- A short-term plan to identify actions that are consistent with the IRP.
Additional requirements from the newly passed state law commonly known as the Clean Energy Transformation Act, or CETA, will also be incorporated into the IRP as they are developed by regulators.
Issues on the local, state, and national levels make long-term planning a challenge. For example, the Bonneville Power Administration, has existing long term, cost based, 20-year purchase power agreements that expire in 2028. The dominant part of our power supply is this fantastic cost based, renewable, reliable, dependable hydropower.
Delivery and Other Important Dates
The plan is scheduled for submission to the Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development by Sept. 1, 2020. Regulators may change that date to conform with the additional time the Washington Public Utilities Commission granted to the state’s investor-owned-utilities.
We Want to Hear From You!
In keeping with its commitment to openness, transparency and excellent customer service, Clark Public Utilities invites its customer-owners to help shape the IRP.
This webpage will be regularly updated to ensure customer-owners are up to date on the latest news regarding the IRP development process.
It was also designed to be a clearinghouse for all public comments and feedback related to the plan and other relevant ongoing planning and compliance activities.
Customers are welcome to contact the utility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; but using this page specifically for the Integrated Resource Plan guarantees your comments are promptly delivered to and reviewed by the right staff members.