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CO2 Emissions

Published on February 26th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Oregon Moving Ahead With Power Plant Reforms, Despite Clean Power Plan Delay

February 26th, 2016 by  

Despite the recent US Supreme Court decision to delay (or possibly scupper) President Barrack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the state of Oregon has apparently decided to press on with its own power plant reforms, according to recent reports.

OregonThe West Coast state has passed a bill that will require the complete phaseout of coal-fired power plants from the electricity generation portfolio of Pacific Power and PGE by the year 2030. The new bill also requires utility companies to generate at least 50% of their electricity through renewable energy projects by the year 2040.

Commenting on the bill back in January, Pacific Power president and CEO Stefan Bird stated: “Oregonians from all walks of life and across the state agree that it is time to move to a cleaner energy future. We do too. But, Pacific Power has an obligation to achieve that shared objective in an affordable way.” Bird added, though, that the proposals found in the bill were “doable and affordable.”

It’s worth mentioning here that Oregon is home base for a number of solar photovoltaic (PV) cell and module manufacturing facilities — including SunEdison and SolarWorld facilities.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Pat Campbell

    This showed up in today’s Wall Street Journal:

    How Utilities Team Up With Greens Against Consumers

    Oregonians are learning that electric companies like renewables because costlier systems increase profits.

    Travis Kavulla

    Feb. 26, 2016 6:44 p.m. ET

    If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This is the attitude that large electric utilities in Oregon have brought to their state’s 2016 legislative session. Threatened with a sure-to-pass ballot initiative from energetic green activists, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power decided to forestall the referendum by cutting a deal instead

  • TedKidd

    States that don’t move as quickly as possible toward grid 2.0 and democratized DER will wake up with expensive energy, no flexibility, and at serious competitive disadvantage.

  • Harry Johnson

    So the Blue States will continue to lead and disproportionately give their tax dollars to Red States that don’t want to do better. Those are the real welfare states…

    • I believe Texas leads the nation in wind power installation as well as in new wind power construction, at least in part because citizens choose their power source from a competitive market.

      The new push is to also seek solar leadership, according to the 2015 Oncor (pre-CPP) power plan.

      Gratuitous partisan attacks undoubtedly thrill your irrational biases, but divisiveness hurts the overall clean power movement. I’ve learned through 40+ years of teaching that positive reinforcement is many times more effective than hurtful, over-generalized criticism.

      • Harry Johnson

        Republicans are willfully destroying our nation out of racist, self-centered greed and no amount of sweet talk will change that.

        • It’s certainly easier to just mindlessly call people vile names than to engage them in serious debate, yes.

      • cutter1954

        Perhaps Texas leads the nation in wind because it’s cheap to build turbines in West Texas,partly because no oil and gas billionaire has his summer home parked on the seashore overlooking these turbines.(see Cape Wind). While we could have an off topic discussion as to why the more educated,urban,richer states are blue vs red I suspect Texas suffers from the oil and gas resource curse,sort of like Nigeria.I am not familiar with the Oncor plan but at the moment (SEIA) TX has solar per capita~= to RI.VT and MA have 10X,OR 2X,CA 20X,AZ 22X, NV 24 X.Interestingly, ROI on solar seems to be equal for AZ,NV,TX, and VT. Now,obviously there is no physical reason Texas shouldn’t have,practically,as much solar as CA,AZ,and NV,let alone MA.And if it was just cheap power,how do we explain NV and AZ?Did the oil and gas interests inhibit solar but not wind?

        • I think your post is asking why Texas leads the nation in wind power but trails comparably sunny states in solar power. I’m hardly an expert in Texas energy history, but here’s what I glean from reading the plan I referenced above.

          Commercial solar has in the past been significantly more expensive to deploy than wind, which became cost competitive with fossil fuels within the past 10 years. In fact, wind was actually less expensive than natural gas during the NG price spike a few years back, which led to the wind generator boom that got us here. Before I retired, I routinely saw blades on commercial haulers heading west on I-20 almost every day during my commute.

          Yes, out of sight space for wind farms isn’t a problem here at all – you’ll run out of electricity demand long before you run out of Texas. 😉

          Since the Texas energy market is competitive, and solar was until recently more expensive, energy businesses naturally deployed wind. Now that solar costs are becoming more competitive, commercial solar capacity has been roughly doubling since 2009 (starting from next to nothing, of course), and Texas expects to see and is planning for a solar boom in the next decade similar to the wind boom in the last decade.

          Green philosophy is great, but IMHO it’s economics that really motivates change. That’s one reason I prefer broadly applied pollution taxes rather than specifically mandated emission control devices.

          Is that what you were asking?

          • cutter1954

            What I was getting was trying to understand the gross disparity of which states have solar,and which don’t.I hope that Texas and Florida catch up and surpass states like California and Arizona,but I won’t be surprised if there is not significant pushback from the fossil fuel interests in Texas,and the Republicans in Florida.And the explanation is not just economics;the ROI in Oregon is ~ 2,8%,Texas is 5.1%,yet Oregon has close to twice per capita that Texas has now.In Oregon practically you can’t be a successful politician and not be green;in Texas you can’t be successful without backing fossil fuels.

          • I’m not clear why you believe solar will be more strongly opposed than wind, from which we get around 15% of our grid power, when the official state plan starting in 2014 openly incentivizes solar.

          • cutter1954

            I think wind was big enough to possibly push back against oil and gas interests.While solar can also be industrial elsewhere in the country oftentimes it is residential or municipal.If Texas wanted to act rationally it would ask why not catch up with the other southwest states in solar,as well as going for the cheapest watt,a negawatt.(According to ACEEE Texas ranks 26th in efficiency).But I doubt the argument in Texas would run like this:we have obvious resources in wind,solar,offshore wind,land,and oil and gas,and cheap labor.Lets push for a net zero energy situation in Texas while we sell as much oil and gas to the fools outside,while putting the taxes raised by those sales into a sovereign wealth fund financing education and a rainy day fund to mitigate climate change.We are big enough to have taxes on gasoline to get a price around $8.00 per gallon.We will incentivize a statewide shift to solar and wind.Put solar on everyone’s home,business,parking lot,etc.Incentivise ev cars and trucks so that the first three most popular vehicles sold will be electric.Require every new house built to have solar or donate to a solar fund for cities and low income folks.Texas will reap the benefits from this solar shift. .The problem is this would not be Texas.This would be Norway.Texas,like every other state,more or less,has decided that it likes cheap(at first glance)gas and oil.And perhaps had politicians who had become accustomed to the oil and gas money well before they had a rational discussion of how to manage a windfall.

      • neroden

        Texas free-market wind construction appears to have had *no* support from the Republican government of Texas.

  • nitpicker357
  • Matt

    No coal by 2030, 50% renewable by 2040. Do I read that as Oregon uses a lot of NG or that they don’t count hydro in the “50% renewable”.

    • nitpicker357

      Thanks for the link. I do not think “renewable” means “non-hydro renewable” here, though. The article states that Pacific Power and PGE will be required to phase out coal by 2030 and that “utility companies” must generate at least 50% of electricity from renewable energy. I do wish articles like this included a link to the text of the bill. According to your helpful link, Pacific Power currently gets 64.6% of its power from coal, so this would be amazing. (64.6% = .674 (fraction of own generation from coal) * .904 (fraction of power from own generation) + .3838 * .096 (market purchase)) Portland General Electric (PGE) currently gets 31.81 % of its electric power from coal (30.3% of own generation * 79.27% of power from own generation + 37.6% of market power* 20.72% market power)

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