Sarah Rasmussen, associate regional representative, Sierra Club Cascade Chapter, calls it an exciting possibility.
"One of the great things the council has said is that we can replace a lot of the energy we now get from coal plants with increased energy efficiency. The great things about increased energy efficiency are that it saves us money and creates a lot of jobs."
Twenty-three percent of the electric power in the Northwest is generated from coal, according to Rasmussen.
Conservation groups say their biggest priority is making sure the council puts a high price on carbon in the plan. That would force coal plant owners to clean up their pollution, Rasmussen says, and would show what she calls the "true cost" of using coal.
"As the Northwest Power and Conservation Council has said, we cannot achieve our global warming targets if we continue to burn coal. The price of coal on your electric bill does not take into account all the negative effects that it has on our climate and our environment."
Of all the electricity produced in the Northwest, coal-fired power is responsible for more than 80 percent of the carbon pollution, which has been linked to global warming, the Sierra Club says. The group is asking the Council to set goals to reduce carbon emissions, not just stabilize them.
The council meets Dec. 8 and 9 in Portland. When a plan is approved, the Bonneville Power Administration uses it as a framework for energy decisions for the region.
The plan is available at www.nwcouncil.org.