Reducing our environmental impact while maintaining safe, reliable, and affordable service.
NW Natural is strategically planning to use and develop the resources that will allow us to keep our customers' energy needs now and into the future while fulfilling our commitment in helping the region reduce its impact on the climate and being an integral part of a thriving economy.
Integrated Resource Plan
Resource planning process
At NW Natural, we have a responsibility to meet our customers' current and future energy needs, reliably and affordably. Every few years, Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) develops a plan that best meets our customers' forecasted long-term energy requirements with the goal of minimizing the combination of costs and risks for NW Natural customers. This robust planning process evaluates many factors including but not limited to the following:
- Environmental policy
- Customer growth
- Consumption trends
- Demand-side resources such as energy efficiency and demand response
- Supply-side resources such as renewable natural gas, storage options
Our IRP is developed through a process open to the public and informed by feedback and a formal review by a diverse set of interested parties, including:
- The Oregon and Washington utility commission staffs
- Ratepayer, environmental and industry advocates
- Energy Trust of Oregon
- Other utilities
- Other interested participants
Upcoming IRP working groups & public meetings
Please feel free to get in touch with us with questions about the IRP, or to be added to a workshop or Technical Working Group (TWG) for our next plan.
All meetings listed below are tentative and subject to change.
|Avoided Costs||October 8, 2021|
Technical Working Groups
|Load Considerations for 2022 IRP||September 29, 2021|
|Emissions Considerations for 2022 IRP||TBD|
|Planning Environment and Environmental Policy||January 2022|
|Load Forecasting||February 2022|
|Avoided Costs and Demand Side Resource||February 2022|
|Supply Side Resource||March 2022|
|Portfolio Results & Actions||March 2022|
|Distribution System Planning||April 2022|
2018 IRP - letter from David H. Anderson, NW Natural President and CEO
Our 2018 Integrated Resource Plan blends technical acumen with strategic thinking to evaluate the resource options available to serve our customers’ energy needs. The outcome of this work is a long-term resource acquisition plan, supported by near-term action, ensuring that we can serve our customers safely, reliably, and affordably in a way that is consistent with the values of the communities we serve, public policy, and regulatory mandates.
In some respects, NW Natural’s 2018 Integrated Resource Plan reaffirms prior planning efforts. The least cost resource path over the next few years will rely on energy efficiency delivered through our partnership with Energy Trust of Oregon and our ability to add existing energy storage capacity from our Mist underground storage facilities in northwest Oregon. The Mist facility provides tremendous value for customers and our system with safe, reliable and cost-effective storage within the bounds of our modern distribution network.
While prospective environmental policy has been a major consideration in previous IRPs, it takes on a prominent role in the 2018 IRP as the communities in our service territory evaluate pathways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We believe the threat of climate change is real and that NW Natural has an important role to play in reducing societal emissions. We’ve taken a number of steps over the course of our company’s history to reduce the environmental impacts associated with our product and look forward to being a leader among natural gas utilities in reducing the emissions footprint of the product we deliver going forward.
To this end, in this IRP we have modeled low carbon resources, such as renewable natural gas (RNG), Power-to-gas (P2G) and more efficient end-use equipment like natural gas powered heat pumps in much more detail. We have also taken steps to evaluate these resources in an “apples-to-apples” comparison with more traditional resources. The result is that, in addition to the sizeable energy savings Energy Trust of Oregon expects to achieve on behalf of our customers, we find that some sources of RNG, such as dairies located within our service territory and adjacent to existing pipeline infrastructure, emerge as a least cost resource option over the course of the IRP’s 20-year planning horizon.
Additionally, our risk analysis to assess how susceptible resources are to changes in assumptions about uncertain inputs is focused more than ever on the compliance risks associated with the emissions of the product we deliver. Similarly, we include emissions forecasts of the resource portfolios considered in this IRP so that their emissions footprints can more easily be assessed along with the traditional metrics of cost and reliability. The IRP shows that we expect to achieve sizeable emissions reductions with the actions we plan to take over the planning horizon, and demonstrates that more drastic reductions are possible while still serving the same energy needs under alternative policy assumptions.
I’m extremely proud of the work that’s gone into developing our 2018 Integrated Resource Plan and want to thank everyone who participated in our working groups throughout the development ii of the plan. Your voices are important in helping us chart the best path forward for our customers. I encourage anyone interested in future energy needs to spend some time with this document. I believe that the pathway we’ve identified demonstrates how a natural gas utility can continue to deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy services in a low-carbon energy future.
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