Conservation will meet almost 60% of added energy demand over the next five years in the Pacific Northwest if a draft plan released on Sept. 4 by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council is adopted. Over the next 20 years, that figures jumps to 85%.

The council devises a new plan every five years to guide power development in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Each state’s governor appoints two members.

Electricity demand will grow 2,058 MW between 2010 and 2014, says the plan. It suggests that 1,200 MW could come from conservation measures such as smart-grid energy management, power-storage improvements, the use of Energy Star appliances, fluorescent lights and sustainable building construction.

The plan forecasts 1.2% annual demand growth for electricity over the next 20 years and identifies 5,800 MW of new energy efficiency to meet 85% of that demand. The average cost of the efficiency is half the cost of new powerplants.

There will be no new coal-fired powerplants built over the next 20 years in the four-state region.

New power would come from wind and natural gas or other alternative energy sources. The plan anticipates no new coal-fired powerplants in the next 20 years.

“We haven’t had time to review the plan, but we certainly approve of the direction it takes toward conservation,” says Andy Wapler, spokesman for Puget Sound Energy, Bellevue, Wash. The utility is now seeking permits for a wind farm that could eventually contain 1,475 turbines and produce 1,432 MW. Construction at the Lower Snake River Wind Farm in Garfield County, Wash., is expected to start next year, pending permit approval. Construction cost was not available.

Release of the plan starts the clock running on a public-comment period. Comments will be accepted until Nov. 6. The council will adopt the plan by the end of 2009.