InvestigateWest: Can West learn to share renewable power?

March of 2019 opened with a deep chill across Cascadia. Arctic air poured south, jacking up energy consumption and straining energy supplies in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. It conjured a “perfect” storm for the region’s electricity grid. As temperatures plummeted, Cascadia’s hydropower reservoirs sat at record lows  following weak fall rains and an exceptionally cold winter. Mechanical trouble had halved output from the Centralia, Washington, coal-fired power plant — the largest generator between Seattle and Portland. Experts say the development of renewable energy in the West will depend on a robust power grid with centralized controls. But that kind of system doesn’t exist in the region that comprises Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.