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Policy Topics

During the second half of the class we will invite some of the Northwest’s top energy policy makers and analysts to join us to discuss and debate some of the most important “hot topics” currently under discussion, and explore their implications for the future of the region’s economy and vitality of the Columbia River ecosystem. We will make our final decisions on the topics we want to explore during the first two weeks of class and invite the guest speakers based on our choices.

Hot Policy Topic: The Future of Electric Utilites

One fascinating and important policy topic has already emerged and will definitely be addressed. We will examine the implications of recent developments that some observers believe threaten the very future of electric utilities: whether the traditional electric utility business model – marked by regulated or locally-governed utilities that agree to serve all interested customers in a designated service territory in exchange for the exclusive right to serve them at an authorized rate of return, centralized power production and increasing economies of scale, the one-way flow of electricity from large power plants through an organized transmission and distribution system to homes and businesses, and utility revenues tied to the addition of more physical assets and the generation and sale of more power – is still viable as we transition to the New Energy Economy. >> Read more

It is likely that our choices will include many of the following candidate topics. Excellent guest speakers should be available to help us explore each of these issues.

Other Candidate Policy Topics

  • Learn how the Northwest is supporting more wind generation, photovoltaic cells, and other renewable energy options, and the challenges we must overcome to achieve even more wind and other renewables. >> Read more
  • Appreciate the vital role that energy efficiency continues to play in the New Energy Economy and explore how energy efficiency programs can be even more effective.  >> Read more
  • Examine the changes to the Columbia River Treaty between the US and Canada that have been recommended by US and Canadian parties, and consider how they might impact the Northwest energy system. >> Read more 
  • Explore “cutting edge” efforts to determine the most effective ways to allow individuals and neighborhoods that want to take advantage of distributed generation resource options to do so in ways that avoid placing unnecessary and inappropriate burdens on utilities, non-participating utility customers, and taxpayers. >> Read more
  • Investigate the latest developments in energy resource planning at the regional level. >> Read more
  • Understand the latest developments in the continuing struggle over competing visions of the Columbia River’s primary role. >> Read more
  • Explore the current debate over the economic viability of Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station, the region’s sole remaining nuclear power plant. >> Read more
  • Explore the future of coal and coal plants in the Pacific Northwest. >> Read more