Portland General Electric nixes plan for new gas capacity

Dive Brief:

  • Portland General Electric has withdrawn an air permit request and a site certificate amendment for a pair of proposed gas units following criticism that their development would violate the spirit of a commitment to minimize fossil fuel use.
  • The utility says it is now in bilateral negotiations to acquire dispatchable resources, and would consider power purchase agreements or purchasing a renewable energy plant.
  • Last year, the utility's proposed Integrated Resource Plan included plans for 420 MW of new gas-fired capacity to replace the 600 MW Carty coal-fired station, which will be shut down in 2020. 

Dive Insight:

Responding to criticism over its plan for new gas-fired capacity, Portland General will head back to the drawing board and negotiate to acquire green resources as well as proposing to add significant renewable capacity to its system.

“We’re currently in bilateral negotiations to acquire dispatchable resources to meet our customers’ energy needs,” PGE president and CEO Jim Piro said in a statement. “It’s appropriate for us to suspend the permitting process at Carty until we complete these negotiations.”

Last week, PGE sent letters to the Oregon Department of Energy and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, requesting to suspend site certification and a related air permit request.

PGE said that if the utility secures capacity through bilateral negotiations, then it will seek approval of the agreements from the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The company added that it is considering a competitive request for proposals to acquire any additional needed capacity resources, and wants to conduct a bidding process to acquire approximately 175 average MW of new renewable resources—equivalent to a wind nameplate capacity of approximately 500 MW. That would allow the utility to take advantage of federal tax credits for renewable facilities, and could help PGE generate half its energy from carbon-free sources by 2020.

“PGE has maintained an extensive dialogue with our regulators, customers and many stakeholder groups throughout our current resource planning process,” Piro said. “We appreciate their input, and we’re working hard to identify cost effective options from existing generating resources in the region that could help us both back up our renewable resources and meet our customers’ peak energy needs.”

Last year, Oregon lawmakers mandated  a 50%-by-2040 renewable portfolio standard, and PGE committed reduce its use of fossil fuels and add carbon-free sources. Environmentalists said the new gas capacity would violate the spirit of the agreement they reached with the utility.

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Filed Under: Generation
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