SALEM - State lawmakers today will take up a proposal to require that a quarter of Oregon's electricity comes from wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable energy technologies.
The proposal for 25 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025 is one of Gov. Ted Kulongoski's top priorities for the session. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled the first hearing today on his plan, Senate Bill 373.
In a briefing with reporters, Kulongoski said he felt upbeat about the bill's chances. About two dozen states already have renewable energy standards, including California and Washington. But Kulongoski said Oregon's would be the second-most ambitious in the country.
The bill calls for intermediate standards to be met along the way to the "25 by '25" target. By 2010, each utility must meet a 5 percent threshold. That would rise to 15 percent by 2015 and to 20 percent by 2020.
Columbia Energy Partners has sold its 200-megawatt wind projects near Arlington to Horizon Wind Energy of Houston.
Horizon is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, a New York investment banking firm.
Columbia Energy Partners and its partner, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, developed the project during the past five years. Situated west of Arlington, the project includes leases for nearly 15,000 acres, five years of on-site wind data, and permits for Phase I construction of windmills to produce more than 300 megawatts of electricity for the Bonneville Power Administration. Dedicated access to the BPA's Jones Canyon substation on the project site also was included in the sale.
OSU specifically will see about $127.3 million in bonds and other revenue sources for 12 construction projects. This includes $4 million for a planned Biofuels Lab and Learning Center; $5 million for a proposed wind farm project; $20 million for Gill Coliseum renovations; $15.5 million for deferred maintenance and seismic upgrades to Nash Hall; and $62.5 million to build a Pauling Research and Education Building to house the expanding Linus Pauling Institute, currently located in Weniger Hall.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s eyes light up when he starts talking about the benefits that windmills, solar panels and biofuels could bring his state.
Though the $30 million that Kulongoski allotted in his two-year budget proposal for green energy is dwarfed by the billions he wants to spend on education and health care, the governor thinks it’s the first step in freeing the country from its dependence on fossil fuels.
“I think Oregon can be … this national crucible for the development of this industry,'’ the governor said this week in an interview. “The state government can be a model for the private sector.
For nearly two years, the City of Portland has been in contract negotiations with a local power company, PPM, to provide all of the city’s municipal energy through wind power. The deal will make Portland the first city in the country to use all renewable energy for the government’s power needs—but not unless the two sides can agree on the contract’s terms, something that seems decreasingly likely as the days stretch on.
Two residents who opposed construction of wind-measuring towers on Sevenmile Hill have given notice that they will appeal the county’s decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).
Gary and Linda Casady, and Mark Womble were the petitioners to LUBA.
At issue were requests by UPC Wind Management, LLC for two-year permits to construct a pair of wind-measuring towers — one 164 feet tall and one 197 feet tall — at two properties on Sevenmile Hill. Three other UPC tower requests for properties farther south and outside of populated areas had been granted without any opposition.
An Oregon State University engineering professor has helped design a new “micro” wind turbine that can be mounted along the edges of building roofs to generate electricity.
The new small-scale turbine design could revolutionize the wind power industry, with rows of small rooftop turbines enabling power generation in urban and suburban settings, instead of only from large, towering, traditional wind farms in rural areas.
Wasco County Commissioners denied a pair of appeals Wednesday from residents of Seven Mile Hill who are opposed to the construction of wind-measuring towers at two sites on the hill.
At each site, members of the planning commission had approved two-year temporary permits for a pair of towers, one at 164 feet and one at 197 feet.
The towers, according to the applications, were “for gathering wind and temperature data to establish the viability of the property for a future wind energy generation facility.”
Threemile Canyon Farms plans to begin producing a new crop next year - wind power.
The Morrow County Planning Commission Tuesday approved a conditional-use permit for a $25-million, nine-tower, 15-megawatt project in an exclusive farm-use zone. The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Jeff Wenholz opposed.
Six of Oregon’s 36 counties lost population between July 2005 and July 2006, with Sherman County losing the largest percentage — .08 percent.........County Assessor Dick Stradley says he doesn’t know for sure but guesses that the fluctuation is because of contract workers for power companies that move in temporarily to work on dams or windmills.
“They come in here and we never see them,” he said. “Then in one or two months they are gone.”
Portland General Electric this week moved one step closer to construction of its Biglow Canyon Wind Farm with the purchase of 76 wind turbines for phase one of the proposed 25,000-acre project.
PGE announced Monday an agreement with Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark to purchase the turbines for the Biglow Canyon site near Wasco in Sherman County.
Rural Columbia River Gorge counties saw plenty of dollar signs when wind farm developers began erecting turbines in their breezy, rural backyards.
The investments slapped tens of millions of dollars onto sagging tax rolls and promised to revive budgets for services such as schools, health care and economic development.
But the anticipated windfall has suddenly lost some of its heft.
A state-level change in the way the projects are valued has worked to pull down assessments, and, in turn, has wiped out hundreds of thousands of property tax dollars that county officials had hoped to pencil into future budgets.
“This is very serious for our counties and our taxing districts,” Judge Laura Pryor of Gilliam County wrote in an e-mail newsletter to rural colleagues. “What we have all thought of as an industry of benefit, may not be of much benefit. They don’t provide any jobs and now they may not provide much revenue either!”
When a grinning Gov. Ted Kulongoski delivered his victory speech on election night, he stood before a banner that read “Energy Independence.”
Although education, jobs and health care had dominated his campaign, he had insisted on preserving a spot for his energy agenda, which promoted home-turf renewables such as wind, solar and biofuel.
Some considered his green intentions a bit ephemeral. But, with this week’s election, the climate changed. Not only did Kulongoski win a second term, but he also gained a Legislature dominated by fellow Democrats.
The Oregon Energy Facility met Friday in The Dalles to consider approval of amendments to site certificates for two wind farms in Sherman County.
Klondike Three Wind Project LLC is requesting an amendment that would make changes to the physical layout of the facility. It would allow the certificate holder to use wind turbines having a higher generating capacity than currently permitted in the site certificate.
The Emerald People's Utility District is ready to invest in wind farms and other renewable energy projects - but first needs a thumbs-up from voters.
Measure 20-126 on the Nov. 7 ballot would allow EPUD to enter into multiple contracts for up to 100 megawatts of electricity generated by renewable resources.
EPUD already allows customers to buy "green" power that it purchases from other sources of renewable energy. But now the utility is ready to actually invest in renewable energy projects - which can require debt service payments on money borrowed for construction, even if no electricity is ever produced.
At the halfway point between the West Coast energy crisis of 2001 and the next major electricity contract renewal year of 2011, a federal power marketing agency is proposing a policy change that could affect rates in the Pacific Northwest for generations and become a national model for energy development.
Northwest hydropower is one of the cheapest energy resources in the nation - about half the current market rate for electricity. The Bonneville Power Administration - which sells power in all of Washington, Oregon and Idaho and parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana - announced this summer it wants to change the way it charges utilities for its wholesale power, to keep rates low.
The land around him stretches open and bare except for the single wind-reading tower. But the accumulated data has confirmed the area's potential, and, soon, PPM Energy, Baker's boss and one of the nation's largest wind developers, plans to erect 147 turbines, each 30 stories high, a massive project by industry standards.
His job isn't just about the wind. It's about converting wind speeds into kilowatt-hours. It's about pricing each of those units of energy. It's about the money.
"We sell electricity, not miles per hour," Baker explains.
Environmentalists statewide released their agenda for the 2007 legislative session Wednesday, saying they want to expand renewable-energy sources and electronic-recycling programs, promote biodiesel and other local fuels and create stricter standards for industrial water pollution.
"We are working with both sides of the aisle to make sure these priorities are high on the list," said Sybil Ackerman, the legislative-affairs director for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.
The Oregon Conservation Network, a coalition of more than 40 environmental groups, unveiled its legislative goals at a Capitol news conference.
The largest landfill in Jackson County is transforming itself into an alternative energy farm that will burn waste methane to produce a steady 3.2 megawatts of power for the next century.
The Dry Creek landfill takes in 900 tons of municipal garbage a day. But construction has just started on a powerhouse, which will go online next spring with two large, 20-cylinder Caterpillar engines, to use that decomposing garbage from Jackson and Josephine counties to convert into energy. A third engine may be added later.
It's the first green landfill in Southern Oregon. Burning 1,040 cubic feet of methane per minute, its output would continually power about 3,000 homes, said Dry Creek General Manager Lee Fortier, a civil engineer who designed the landfill.
Similar green energy farms are in Eugene and Corvallis. Energy will be sold to Pacific Power and fed into the grid.
The list of qualifying devices includes passive solar space heating, solar water heating, solar thermal electric, photovoltaic, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, fuel cells and alternative energy refueling stations.