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Portland General Electric Plans to Replace Coal with Renewable Energy
By: DAVID J. PETERSEN
Portland General Electric (PGE) will shut down Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in 2020. Recently, PGE filed with the Oregon Public Utility Commission its plan to replace that energy, and to meet the state's revised renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
The plan identifies a shortfall of 819 megawatts (MW) in 2021 after closure of the Boardman coal plant. Also, PGE must source 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, 27% by 2025 and 50% by 2040. To offset the loss of Boardman and move toward these targets, PGE plans to acquire 175 new MW of renewable energy by 2020. That energy will come from wind, solar, and biomass facilities, with wind the most likely candidate due its lower cost. The RPS incentivizes development of those facilities inside Oregon, so expect to see increased interest in new wind and other renewable projects across the state.
PGE also will pursue new, steadier sources of power to provide electricity when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine. This will include 440 MW of natural-gas fired electricity from PGE's newly-built Carty Generating Station near Boardman. Other projects providing similar "dispatchable" energy can be expected in Oregon, along with continued emphasis on saving electricity through improved efficiency. And technology will help too, as PGE improves "demand response" programs that help manage customer usage during times of peak energy demand.
PGE's plan is under review by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, with adoption expected in summer 2017.
As we face choppy waters for climate action at the national level, renewable energy developers and advocates can take comfort that it is full steam ahead to build a cleaner energy infrastructure close to home.