Oregon Legislature passes bill to move away from coal

The Oregon Legislature has adopted a bill, Senate Bill 1547-B, which would eliminate coal from the state’s electric power supply no later than 2035.

The same legislation will require Portland General Electric (PGE)(NYSE:POR) to increase the amount of energy it delivers to customers from qualifying renewable resources to 50% by 2040, PGE noted in a news release.

The Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board said in January that several environmental groups have reached an agreement with Berkshire Hathaway Energy affiliate PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric (PGE) on the legislative proposal to phase out coal.

Otherwise known as the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan, Senate Bill 1547-B (formerly House Bill 4036) received approval March 2 from the Oregon Senate after the Oregon House passed the measure beforehand.

The measure will now await the signature of Gov. Kate Brown (D). On Feb. 16, Brown joined a bipartisan group of 17 governors to announce the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future – a joint commitment to take action to promote clean energy, clean transportation choices, and a modern electrical grid.

“We were pleased to be part of a collaborative process that puts Oregon’s electricity sector on a path to achieve its state carbon reduction goals as we plan for Oregon’s energy future,” said Jim Piro, PGE’s president and CEO. “This is a sensible approach that reflects our customers’ values while maintaining the affordability and reliability of electric service.”

The state’s existing renewable energy standard, adopted in 2007, requires PGE to meet customers’ power needs using 20% qualifying renewable resources by 2020 and 25% by 2025. The new law increases the standard to 50% by 2040, with intermediate steps of 27% in 2025, 35% in 2030, and 45% in 2035.

The legislation requires PGE to cease serving customers with power from its share of the Colstrip Generating Station, near Colstrip, Mont., no later than the end of 2035.

PGE owns 20% of Colstrip units 3 and 4, totaling approximately 296 MW of generating capacity. PGE is already on track to cease coal-fired operations at its Boardman Generating Station, near Boardman, Ore., by the end of 2020. PGE’s 90% share of the Boardman plant totals approximately 518 MW of generating capacity.

PGE estimates that the new requirements could result in a cost impact to customers averaging 1.5% annually between 2017 and 2040.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.