Has the green energy bubble burst?

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012

By Jon Bell

Like industries everywhere, Oregon’s renewable energy sector, which saw impressive growth before 2008, has experienced turbulence. Chinese solar panels and wind turbines have stiffened competition, and uncertainty around the extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), a valuable incentive for renewable energy companies, has many firms wary. Vestas Wind Systems and Iberdrola Renewables announced layoffs earlier this year.

At the same time, SoloPower is forging ahead with a $340 million facility in Portland that could someday employ 400. New federal tariffs on Chinese solar panels could help level the playing field.

So, has the green bubble burst in Oregon or is it just deflating a bit before staging a comeback?

0512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_010512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_020512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_030512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_040512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_05

Bill Conerly
Lake Oswego economist, principal at Conerly Consulting
“Green energy wasn’t really a bubble as investments go. A sign of a bubble is that people see first-generation investors making money and pile on after them. Nobody was truly making money here, just collecting government subsidies. The availability of subsidies attracted money, but few market participants believed that renewables made sense absent the subsidies. The future of renewable energy depends entirely on subsidies in the foreseeable future, aside from a few select applications. There may come a time, many years from now, when renewables can stand on their own feet, but we are very far away from that time. With falling natural gas prices, the time when solar makes sense is even farther away.”

Steve Corson
Portland General Electric spokesman
“The recession certainly had an impact on development of renewable energy, just as it did on the overall picture of the region. We have seen some softening in load growth and our projections for what customers are going to need, but we see that as a dip rather than a stall. We’re still working to acquire new renewables. We have a renewable standard in Oregon [which mandates that 25% of power must be renewable by 2025], so we are going to be increasing our amount of renewable power in the coming years. [As far as subsidies go], even if you took away the major incentive, which is the Production Tax Credit, we would still add renewables. In our case, the tax incentives are essentially a pass-through to our customers. From a public policy standpoint, it makes sense that tax and environmental policies align.”

Erin Greeson
Spokeswoman for Renewable Northwest Project, a Portland nonprofit that advocates for the development of renewable resources

“We don’t feel the bubble has burst. The entire country and the world are recovering from a recession. We have a very strong renewable energy economy here, and it is being affected by the global economy. Renewable has always been kind of boom and bust because there’s never been sound, stable policies in place to fully support it. But we are very proud of the progress that the state has achieved in bringing clean renewable energy onto the system and for having the vision to see renewable energy as an economic driver. Renewable companies have invested $5.4 billion in Oregon. This industry has brought a lot of jobs to the state. New renewable energy is still a small fraction of what’s on the grid. We’re making progress, but the work has only just begun.”

 

 

Comments   

 
John  A. Ward
0 #1 Has the Green Bubble BurstJohn A. Ward 2012-04-25 12:48:01
I agree with the 'there never was a green bubble without subsidies', renewable energy wouldn't exist without external financing, it doesn't now or anywhere in the near future 5-10 years look like anything but a niche product.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Jody Wiser
0 #2 Policy Wonk, Tax Fairness OregonJody Wiser 2012-04-26 09:04:55
Actually, in California, solar is now competitive with other sources of energy. More progress on system efficiencies and the same will be true in Oregon. And there is lots of experimentation going on. We'll get there. Maybe not for all the individual projects on homes' roofs, but certainly for larger scale arrays.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Photo Log: The 2015 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
greenthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Oregon Business celebrated the 100 Best Green Workplaces with an awards luncheon yesterday at the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

Change at the pump?

The Latest
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
001thumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that ban self serve gas stations. But these two holdouts may be ready to give up the game. New Jersey is considering legislation that would lift the state's ban on pumping your own gas. Oregon is considering smaller scale changes.


Read more...

Knight Cancer Challenge No Biotech Dream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.


Read more...

Photo Diary: Forest Grove Farmers Market

The Latest
Thursday, May 14, 2015
IMG 8469BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.


Read more...

Editor’s Note: It’s a Man’s World

Linda Baker
Thursday, April 30, 2015
lindablogthumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Earlier this week we posted an article from our May issue:  It’s a Man's Man’s Man’s World. The story covered the gender divide in tech from the perspective of male workers. Twitter didn’t like it.


Read more...

Celestial Eats

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER AND EILEEN GARVIN

A power lunch at Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar.


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