PORTLAND, Ore. - A vote may come this week on the Sixth
Northwest Power Plan, the document that will set the energy agenda for
the four Northwest states over the next 20 years. Drafted by the
Northwest Power and Conservation Council, its provisions identify major
targets for greater energy efficiency and recommend less use of
coal-fired power - policies that please conservation groups like the Sierra Club.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is made up of two
representatives from each state: Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
The council drafts a new plan every five years. This one already is
receiving praise for creating targets for energy savings instead of for
generating more electricity - and for raising the possibility that
coal-generated power could be phased out of the region over the next 10
Sarah Rasmussen, associate regional representative, Sierra Club Cascade Chapter, calls it an exciting possibility.
"One of the great things the council has said is that we can replace a
lot of the energy we now get from coal plants with increased energy
efficiency. The great things about increased energy efficiency are that
it saves us money and creates a lot of jobs."
Conservation groups have said their biggest priority is making sure the
council puts a high price on carbon in the plan. That would force coal
plant owners to clean up their pollution, Rasmussen says, and would
show what she calls the "true cost" of using coal.
"As the Northwest Power and Conservation Council has said, we cannot
achieve our global warming targets if we continue to burn coal. The
price of coal on your electric bill does not take into account all the
negative effects that it has on our climate and our environment."
According to the Sierra Club, 23 percent of the electric
power in the Northwest is generated from coal, but of all the
electricity produced in the Northwest, the coal-fired power is
responsible for more than 80 percent of the carbon pollution linked to
global warming. The group is asking the Council to set goals to reduce
carbon emissions, not just stabilize them.
The council meets Dec. 8 and 9 in Portland. When a plan is approved,
the Bonneville Power Administration uses it as a framework for energy
decisions for the region.