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

Behind the curtain: What students should know about accreditation and rankings

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 04, 2014
120414-edurating-thumbBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How important are institutional and/or program evaluations provided by third parties in selecting a college or university program?


Read more...

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

Political theater

News
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
0107-orbizplansum14-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit drew more than 1,000 people to the Oregon Convention Center yesterday.


Read more...

LEED for weed

News
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
012815-potcarbon-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

What is the impact of the legal pot industry on carbon emissions? An NEBC energy forum breakfast makes the case for taking the new industry’s emissions impacts very seriously.


Read more...

Carbon Power

February 2015
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.


Read more...

7 industry trends of 2015

The Latest
Friday, January 09, 2015
covertrends15-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Industry groups identify top trends for 2015.


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