Clean energy policies, technological advances, and the growing popularity of customer-owned distributed energy resources are upending the traditional utility planning paradigm. At the same time, energy buyers have more choices than ever and must weigh complex trade-offs between costs, benefits, and risks.
E3 assists utilities, local governments, and large energy users with sophisticated analysis that guides sound investment and contracting decisions. We provide custom market analysis to support transactions in energy, capacity, renewable energy credits, and emissions allowances.
Our utility services include technical studies for integrated resource planning, bid evaluation, and regulatory support. E3 continues to break new ground with studies of integration needs at high renewable penetration levels in places like Hawai‘i, California, and New York.
Our resource planning and procurement services include:
- Reliability/loss-of-load probability modeling
- Production simulation and optimal dispatch modeling
- Renewable integration studies
- Flexible capacity planning and procurement
- GHG abatement strategies
- Distributed energy resource adoption forecasts
- Energy efficiency and demand response assessment and cost-effectiveness studies
- Energy storage dispatch and market co-optimization modeling
- Bid evaluation
- Regulatory support and expert testimony
- Custom forward-market price projections
- Energy procurement and contracting support for large consumers
Resource planning and procurement projects
Study of Policies to Decarbonize Electric Sector in the Northwest I Public Generating Pool, 2017 – present
On behalf of the Public Generating Pool (PGP), a group of hydro-owning public power entities in Washington and Oregon, E3 completed a study exploring the effectiveness of a range of policy mechanisms to decarbonize the electric sector. This study used RESOLVE, E3’s optimal capacity expansion model, to develop optimized generation portfolios for the region through 2050 that capture the unique characteristics of the Northwest hydro system. Scenario analysis was used to examine the cost and emissions impacts of a variety of policy mechanisms, including: (1) regional carbon cap & trade; (2) regional carbon tax; (3) increased regional Renewables Portfolio Standard; and (4) a prohibition of new gas generation. The modeling results indicate that decarbonizing the electric sector in the Northwest can be achieved at relatively low cost with a policy that focuses directly on carbon reductions, whereas policies with an indirect focus on emissions reductions generally achieve less reduction, result in higher costs to ratepayers, and can introduce distortions into electricity markets with unintended consequences.
Key findings from the study include:
- The most cost-effective opportunity for reducing carbon in the Northwest is to displace coal generation with a combination of energy efficiency, renewables and natural gas;
- Renewable generation is an important component of a low-carbon future, however a Renewables Portfolio Standard results in higher costs and higher carbon emissions than a policy that focuses directly on carbon;
- Prohibiting the construction of new natural gas generation adds significant cost but does little to save GHG emissions;
- The Northwest’s existing fleet of zero-carbon hydro and nuclear resources play a crucial role in enabling decarbonization at a low cost—meeting decarbonization goals becomes significantly more challenging and costly should existing zero-carbon resources retire.
The results and implications of the study have been broadly shared with key stakeholders and government officials in the electricity sector, including investor-owned utilities, public power agencies, and environmental groups.
You can find the Pacific Northwest Low Carbon Scenario Analysis – Technical Report, and E3’s PowerPoint Presentation on E3’s website.
After Oregon set renewable portfolio standard (RPS) goals of 25 percent by 2015 and 50 percent by 2040, Portland General Electric (PGE) turned to E3 to study the flexible generation capacity necessary to meet wind integration needs. Our studies considered the variability, uncertainty, and timing of renewable energy output, and we considered alternative resources such as flexible combined cycle gas turbine plants, frame and aero-derivative combustion turbines, reciprocating engines, and energy storage. Our analysis informed the resource procurement strategy in PGE’s 2016 integrated resource plan. The studies found that PGE’s need for within-hour operational flexibility is not a significant driver of the value or need for new gas resources, even at a 50 percent RPS.
With more than two decades of experience in Hawai‘i, E3 is now helping the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) plan for the grid transformation needed to reach 100 percent renewable generation by 2045. Our long-term analysis supported development of the utility’s Power System Improvement Plan (PSIP), with modeling centered on individual island plans and interisland transmission. The study develops least-cost expansion plans for each island using a variety of policy cases and fuel price forecasts. E3 used its Renewable Energy Solutions model (RESOLVE) to explore the economic trade-off between renewable curtailment and investments in storage, and to develop least-cost expansion plans consistent with each scenario. We also solicited and incorporated stakeholder input. HECO filed the PSIP, including testimony and support from E3, with the Hawai‘i Public Service Commission in December 2016.
On behalf of California’s five largest electric utilities, E3 evaluated the challenges, costs, and potential solutions for achieving a 50 percent renewables portfolio standard (RPS) by 2030. Using our Renewable Energy Flexibility Model (REFLEX), we performed detailed operational studies of power system dispatch flexibility constraints under high levels of wind and solar generation. We found that achieving a 50 percent RPS is feasible and that California’s power system can remain reliable as long as renewable resources can be dispatched in response to grid needs. Our study recommended strategies for integrating higher levels of renewables, including greater regional coordination, renewables portfolio diversity, flexible generation capacity, flexible loads, and energy storage. We found that deploying these strategies would reduce the need to curtail renewables, lowering the cost of reaching 50 percent RPS.
E3 has provided procurement and rate-making advice to Wyoming’s Lower Valley Energy (LVE) since 2001. Our long-term procurement plans have carefully addressed LVE’s need to mitigate cost increases due to changes in either market prices of energy or Bonneville Power Administration’s rates. We have also helped LVE assess the merits of different rate structures and compare the value of building generation in its own service territory with the costs of building new transmission facilities to access alternative power sources. Most recently, we provided an independent evaluation of the costs and benefits of a potential merger with a neighboring co-op utility.