Greens take aim at PGE's Boardman plant

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
_GO_1440
PGE's coal plant in Boardman

Coal generates just 22% of the electricity in the Pacific Northwest, but it is responsible for 87% of greenhouse gas emissions from the regional power grid. Given those numbers, it was only a matter of time before environmental groups took aim at Portland General Electric’s Boardman coal plant, the largest source of greenhouse gases in the state.

The Oregon chapter of the Sierra Club is joining chapters in Washington, California and elsewhere to promote a Beyond Coal campaign that calls for stopping the construction of new coal plants and pulling the plug on old ones. Because Oregon has just one coal plant, Sierra Club’s local campaign targets just one utility: PGE, a public company that prides itself on its commitment to wind power, solar energy and efficiency.

Sierra Club and several other environmental groups are already suing PGE over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at Boardman, which emits mercury and sulfur dioxide as well as carbon dioxide. Now they are turning up the volume on a public critique of PGE’s plan to invest $500 million into the Boardman plant. “It’s a real gamble to invest $500 million into 19th century technology so you can continue burning coal for another 30 years,” says the Sierrra Club’s Robin Everett.

From PGE’s perspective, it would be a much larger gamble to close the plant. Boardman is one of the utility’s cheapest power sources, cranking out electricity 24 hours a day at about one-half the market price. That’s why the utility has decided to make the investment in pollution control technology to reduce emissions of mercury and sulfur dioxide, even though the upgrade would not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. PGE has invested heavily in wind power but the intermittency of wind is more problematic than feared.

“Wind power will only deliver about a third of the time,” says Reuben Plantico, PGE’s environmental policy director. “You can’t build a portfolio on that. You need to have the reliable resources to back up your investments in renewables.”

PGE is also planning to build two new gas plants to back up future wind investments. But some observers, including Portland mayor Sam Adams, wonder whether the same goals could be met through conservation. In an Oct. 5 letter to PGE CEO Jim Piro, Adams wrote, “I strongly urge you to evaluate phasing out Boardman… by 2020 at the latest.”

The coal fires are bound to heat up further as PGE’s plan moves to the realm of the Oregon’s Public Utility Commission this winter.

BEN JACKLET
 

Comments   

 
Don McDaniel
0 #1 Boardman Power PlantDon McDaniel 2009-11-04 17:07:27
It is time to recognize that coal fired power plants need to be phased out. Natural gas appears to be a solution for the next few decades until such time, if ever, non-polluting plants become economically viable (i.e. without huge subsidies from the state and federal governments).

The Port of Astoria has suffered from Boardman air pollution which has settled in the Columbia River and floated downstream to Astoria where it has settled. As a result, the Port has had to spend tens of thousands of dollars removing it. This cost has, I believe, never been added to the calculation of Boardman costs to the environment or to the cost of doing business.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Corner Office: Sheree Arntson

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Checking in with the managing director of Arnerich Massena.


Read more...

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...

The Bookseller

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.


Read more...

See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
22 twosidesBY JASON NORRIS

Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS