Privately held Puget Sound Energy (PSE) filed a revised integrated resource plan (IRP) with Washington state regulators Thursday, calling for up to a 30% increase in its energy efficiency goals, along with stepped-up development of renewable resources and natural gas-fired generation. The 2009 IRP, filed with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, covers a 20-year horizon in assessing the utility’s resource needs.

A combination of increased efficiency and renewable programs can satisfy about 40% of the projected added electricity supplies PSE needs to acquire during the next two decades, according to the IRP. In addition, the plan calls for almost all of the utility’s other new generation to come from natural gas-fired power.

A “significant” increase in natural gas demand is outlined in the resource plan. “PSE customers’ peak winter use of natural gas is expected to jump by more than 38% during the next 20 years, while peak gas usage for winter power generation is predicted to rise by 108%.”

As part of the increased gas needs, PSE’s revised plan calls for the utility to obtain greater gas transmission pipeline capacity and supplies into the Northwest. The IRP is recommending that the utility pursue a study to identify its “best options for boosting pipeline capacity.”

While the ongoing economic slump has short-term impacts, longer term, the IRP assumes continued growth in the Bellevue, WA-based utility’s 11-county service territory. “Approximately one million more Puget Sound residents will be relying on PSE service 20 years now,” according to the updated IRP.

PSE’s updated plan calls for more than 530 average-megawatts (aMW) of additional savings during the next 20 years. In addition, the plan identified 90 million therms of achievable natural gas savings for PSE’s combination utility operations. The savings represent electricity and gas volumes equivalent to the needs of 400,000 and 108,000 households, respectively.

These new efficiency targets represent 22% and 30% increases for electricity and gas, respectively, compared with PSE’s 2007 IRP goals.

In the renewables area, the revised IRP calls for adding 1,100 MW of wind-generated power supplies by 2029. This would allow the Puget Energy utility to comply with Washington state’s Energy Independence and Security Act (Initiative 937), which calls for a 15% renewable requirement in utility power supply portfolio by 2020.

The IRP noted that other renewable technologies — solar, biomass and geothermal — may have long-term potential, but they will have to demonstrate that they can be developed cost-effectively on a utility scale.

PSE Executive Vice President Kimberly Harris stressed that the IRP recognizes the challenge to find economical and environmentally positive ways to meet future energy needs. “Our resource plan takes the right approach with more energy efficiency and renewable resources, augmented by more clean-burning natural gas generation.”

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