Portland General’s IRP action plan features more renewables, gas

Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) on Nov. 15 filed its 2016 Integrated Resource Plan with the Oregon Public Utility Commission, which would put PGE on target for meeting the state’s recently-expanded renewable energy requirements.

The IRP calls for increases in energy efficiency and customer-side demand response, renewable energy and flexible dispatchable resources – those that can be ramped up and down quickly to complement renewable power and ensure reliability. The plan is the result of 18 months of analysis and research.

“This plan affirms our commitment to meet our customers’ need for safe, reliable, affordable energy using increasingly sustainable solutions,” said Jim Piro, president and CEO of PGE. “We have worked hard, in consultation with stakeholders, to weigh all the costs and risks and outline a path to achieve the most responsible balance possible.”

The IRP includes a four-year Action Plan to acquire new resources and analyzes long-term expectations for PGE’s resource needs and portfolio performance. It calls for adding these resources by 2020:

  • A minimum of 135 average MW in energy efficiency, which includes all cost-effective energy efficiency measures identified as achievable by the Energy Trust of Oregon. Energy efficiency is the first resource PGE turns to as it develops its plans for meeting customer needs, reducing the need for new generating resources.
  • Up to 77 MW of demand response resources – measures that can reliably deliver short-term reductions in customer demand to help manage loads during peak periods.
  • 175 average MW of renewable energy – the equivalent of up to 515 MW of wind resources – that will meet state law requiring 20% renewables by 2020. Under the plan, PGE will seek to take advantage of tax credits and favorable market conditions to begin acquiring resources needed to meet the next step, 27% by 2025, at a lower anticipated cost to customers.
  • New resources to a) balance renewables and provide power when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining and b) fulfill the energy shortfall resulting from expiring power purchase agreements and the cessation of coal operations at PGE’s 600-MW Boardman plant in 2020. These would be flexible dispatchable resources. The plan calls for 375 MW-550 MW of resources available year-round, and up to 400 MW of resources available to meet seasonal demand.

“This plan reflects our assessment of the best balance of cost and risk for our customers, as called for in the OPUC’s integrated resource planning process,” said Maria Pope, PGE’s senior vice president of power supply, operations and resource strategy. “In developing the plan, we identified strategies that reduce environmental impact while meeting customers’ needs for affordable and reliable power. We do that by improving energy management, increasing our use of renewable resources and incorporating flexible on-demand resources necessary to balance them.”

Now that PGE has submitted its plan, OPUC staff members and stakeholders have up to six months to review it and provide comments and recommendations to the commission, which will ultimately decide whether the plan makes sense for customers and should be implemented. If the OPUC acknowledges the plan, PGE will work with the commission to develop competitive bidding processes to evaluate and select new resources. Bids could include renewables, hydroelectric power, flexible natural gas generation, geothermal power, energy storage and/or power supply contracts.

Portland General Electric, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a vertically-integrated electric utility that serves more than 863,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.