Portland General Electric To Award 100 MW of Renewables

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Portland General Electric is on track to award several 20-year contracts for a cumulative 100 MW of renewable energy generation by the end of this year, with short-list proposed projects including wind, solar, and battery storage.

The 100 MW of renewables approved by the Oregon Public Utility Commission in December 2017, and a PGE request for proposals for these projects was issued on March 9. A final approval for the awards is expected by the OPUC by the end of December. The resources are expected to be brought into the company’s portfolio no later than 2021, the utility indicates.

“There are multiple bids, in some cases different variations of the same resource,” says Steven Corson, a spokesman for the utility. Bids were open to renewable generation with a minimum 10 MW generation capacity, including geothermal, biomass, biogas, solar, wind and hydroelectric sources.

A PGE commissioned study delivered in late 2017 by energy analysts DNV GL showed that three renewable energy alternatives were being considered by the utility. One involved wind or solar plus a battery storage system, another included wind with or without a battery system, and the third involved combinations or wind and/or solar and a battery storage system. The study was performed as a complement to the utility’s 2016 Integrated Resource Plan.

The projects studied by DNV include the Ione Wind project, at a cost of $1,491/kW, the 
Central MT Wind project at a cost of $1,508/kW, and the Christmas Valley Solar 2 project, at a cost of $1,710/kW AC. PGE has not indicated whether these three projects are the same being considered within the RFP shortlist.

PGE also is seeking to add a minimum amount of energy storage to its portfolio as required by an August 2018 OPUC order that agrees on the development of five energy storage projects with 39 MW of storage at a cost of $45 million, to be developed over the next several years. Some of these energy storage projects may be included in the renewables RFP awards.

“We will be on track to serve approximately 50 percent of our customers’ energy needs with clean and renewable energy by the end of 2020,” PGE indicates on its website.

“Several Oregon cities have already set a goal to reach 100 percent clean and renewable energy, and more than 178,000 of our customers have opted in to Green Future, our voluntary renewable program. Our goal is to reduce GHG emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050,” the utility says. As a result of programs already underway, PGE will be 70 percent carbon-free by 2040, it calculates.

Oregon’s 2016 Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan set a benchmark of 50 percent renewables by 2040 and requires the elimination of coal from Oregon utility customers’ energy supply by 2035, the utility notes. Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements require PGE to replace energy from the Boardman coal-fired generating plant located in Eastern Oregon that will cease coal-fired operations at the end of 2020.

The utility’s renewables and greenhouse goals are following the plans of several municipalities and counties in the state. In June 2017 the city of Portland, and the county of Multnomah, resolved to achieve 100 percent clean and renewable electricity by 2035 and 100 percent economy-wide clean and renewable energy by 2050, PGE says. 4 Other jurisdictions in PGE’s service area, including the cities of Milwaukie and Hillsboro, are considering similar goals, the utility reports.

The addition of renewables will also help the utility plan for increased energy demand in its service area. PGE predicted that demand would increase by more than 500 percent between 2016 and 2021.

The utility’s wind assets currently include the 450 MW Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, in Sherman County, and the 267 MW Tucannon River Wind project in Dayton, WA. PGE has various wholly-owned solar projects with a cumulative capacity of 13 MW, it reports.

PGE serves about approximately 863,000 retail customers in 51 cities, within a 4,000 square mile service territory, which includes a population of about 1.9 million, or 46 percent of the state’s total population, the utility indicates. PGE also reports that it has net plants-in-service worth $9.9 billion.

PGE’s forecast average annual energy demand in 2021 is of approximately 2,450 MW. The utility’s peak load in 2016 was for 3,726 MW. The utility also owns and maintains 28,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines.

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Charles W. Thurston

Charles specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. Among key areas of focus are bifacial panels and solar tracking. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

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