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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Survey of Western U.S. Electric Utility Resource Plans


We review long-term electric utility plans representing ~;;90percent of generation within the Western United States and Canadian provinces. We address: what utility planners assume about future growth of electricity demand and supply; what types of risk they consider in their long-term resource planning; and the consistency in which they report resource planning-related data. The region is anticipated to grow by 2percent annually through 2020?before Demand Side Management. About two-thirds of the utilities that provided an annual energy forecast also reported energy efficiency savings projections; in aggregate, they anticipate an average 6.4percent reduction in energy and 8.6percent reduction in peak demand by 2020. New natural gas-fired and renewable generation will replace retiring coal plants. Although some utilities anticipate new coal-fired plants, most are planning for steady growth in renewable generation over the next two decades. Most planned solar capacity will come online before 2020, with most wind expansion after 2020. Fuel mix is expected to remain ~;;55percent of total generation. Planners consider a wide range of risks but focus on future demand, fuel prices, and the possibility of GHG regulations. Data collection and reporting inconsistencies within and across electric utility resource plans lead to recommendations on policies to address this issue.

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