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|Wednesday, October 21, 2009|
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.
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.
Friday, January 30, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
How did an errant email to the Zidell family end up fronting a story in the Oregonian this morning?
Monday, January 26, 2015
The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
They say maintaining a healthy marriage takes work. So does running a business with your spouse.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president, plus an abridged Powerlist for the best commercial real estate firms.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Researchers in a multitude of disciplines are searching for ways to soak up excess carbon dioxide, the compound that contributes to global warming.
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