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|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?
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.”
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.”
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.”
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS
Don Gentry navigates Klamath Basin water rights.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Watch the 2014 100 Best Green Companies keynote speech by Eric Friedenwald-Fishman.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE
I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
I was in a rut. A few months ago, I was at my desk trying to come up with cover story ideas for our June “green” issue. But I was stuck on a concept that is a bit too tried and true in the magazine business.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
BY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?
Friday, June 06, 2014
BY KATIE AUSBURGER | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How to build a hipster-friendly work environment.
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