Oregon bill would increase share of electricity from small-scale renewables

In a hearing held Feb. 6, public opinions were heard regarding Oregon‘s House Bill 2136.

This bill “creates [a] schedule by which [a] certain percentage of electricity sold by electric company to retail electricity consumers must be electricity generated by qualifying small-scale renewable energy projects.” The bill says small-scale renewable energy projects include marine renewable energy resources.

The bill says that by 2025, “at least 8% of the aggregate electrical capacity of all electric companies that make sales of electricity to 25,000 or more retail electricity consumers in this state must be composed of electricity generated by … small-scale renewable energy projects with a generating capacity of 20 megawatts or less or facilities that generate electricity using biomass that also generate thermal energy for a secondary purpose.”

The approach is scaled, from the 8% by 2025 goal up to 17% by 2040 and in subsequent years.

The Portland Business Journal reported that Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp oppose the legislation, saying it would drive up costs. The Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities said “PGE and PacifiCorp could be forced to take the energy from a limited pool of eligible facilities at whatever price these facilities decide to charge.”

Some key points of the text:

  • Small-scale renewable energy projects are one of the integral parts of this state’s emergency preparedness and, when paired with energy storage and other emerging technology, help ensure that electricity will be available during catastrophic natural disasters.
  • A diverse portfolio of electricity generation projects that includes small-scale renewable energy projects helps reduce the risk of power outages and other technical and financial failures.
  • Supplying electricity to retail electricity consumers that is generated by small-scale renewable energy projects is necessary in order to meet the renewable portfolio standard established under ORS 469A.005 to 469A.210 and therefore necessary for improving this state’s air quality and public health.
  • Absent the requirement established in this section, electric companies might otherwise procure electricity only from large-scale electricity generation projects.

H.B. 2136 was read for the first time in the House on Jan. 9 and referred to the Speaker’s desk. It was referred to the House Energy and Environment Committee on Jan. 17. The bill declares an emergency and is effective on passage.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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