Home Back Issues October 2006 Energy on the edge: Keeping power proceeds local

Energy on the edge: Keeping power proceeds local

| Print |  Email
Archives - October 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
s_Windmill1006THE SITUATION

Renewable or clean energy development has been growing rapidly in parts of Central and Eastern Oregon, as large wind turbine farms sprout up. Rural communities see the economic benefits of some job growth and property tax revenue. But for the most part, these projects — and the proceeds of the power sales — are owned by out-of-state investors and energy developers.

THE INNOVATION

Paul Woodin at Western Wind Power, based in Goldendale, Wash., is pushing partnerships between communities in Oregon and equity investors that would allow the two parties to share the proceeds of small ($5 million to $25 million) clean-energy projects, from mini wind farms powering a few thousand homes to miniature hydroelectric turbines in irrigation canals. Investors — individuals or energy-oriented backers such as John Deere Wind Energy — would provide some of project capital and in return use the tax incentives of equipment depreciation and state energy tax credits of up to $3.5 million. Local project partners — communities, electricity cooperatives, farmer cooperatives — would kick in some financing, potentially using state-backed energy project loans, and take over ownership of the project from investors when the tax credits run out after 10 years. The income comes from selling the power to local utilities or statewide biggies such as Pacific Power or Portland General Electric.

Similar combinations of financings and ownership have been used to fund small wind developments in the Midwest, particularly in Minnesota. Woodin and several other renewable energy developers are feeding on some unique tax incentives and loans in Oregon and the growing interest in renewable energy in the state. “Washington doesn’t have these tools in place,” Woodin says, so he’s concentrated here.

DOES IT HAVE JUICE?

Woodin, a former aluminum plant manager and a project manager at the large Klondike Wind Farm in Sherman County, says he has more interested investors than small projects in the Oregon right now. The key is if they can build the projects to deliver energy at what the Oregon Public Utilities Commission says is a cost comparable to new natural gas-fired power plant. Currently, the cost is set in the 4-6 cents per kilowatt-hour range, which small renewable projects can’t deliver. Woodin and others have appealed to the PUC pushing for a rate closer to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is the projected cost in California and which he says reflects what new power plants actually cost. That would make projects he’s working on — a wind farm in Sherman County and a wood-waste boiler and small hydro turbines in Hood River County — more competitive and open them up to power purchases from utilities. If they can’t get help from the PUC, Woodin and others say they’ll lobby for more Energy Trust of Oregon funding for small clean-energy projects as part of energy bills expected to go to the Oregon Legislature next year. Suffice it to say, localized clean energy’s future hinges on public policy.


— Oakley Brooks

 

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Gender Code

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD

Janice Levenhagen-Seeley reprograms tech.


Read more...

Powerlist: Law Firms

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with leading partners at law firms in Portland and eastern Oregon, followed by October's powerlist.


Read more...

Downtime

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

I'm not very interesting,” says a modest Ray Di Carlo, CEO and executive producer of Bent Image Labs, an animation and visual effects studio.


Read more...

A Taste of Heaven

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Craft beer comes to Mount Angel.


Read more...

The 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon 2014

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
14BY KIM MOORE

Proud, diverse and underpaid.

Pride in their organizations’ mission, fairness in the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, flexible work schedules — these are just a handful of workplace characteristics that employees of this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits appreciate about their organizations.


Read more...

Fork & Bottle

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

National media can’t get enough of Oregon’s pinot noir, artisan-food purveyors and lively, independent film scene.


Read more...

Video: The 100 Best Survey

News
Thursday, August 28, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.


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