Library from Oregon
The energy bill has been controversial since before the legislative session began, because of news reports that Gov. Kate Brown’s administration instructed the Public Utility Commission not to go public with concerns the bill would be expensive for customers yet do little to reduce emissions from coal power plants.
"This session we've seen the Democrat majority put their partisan agenda ahead of both the needs of Oregonians and the law," his statement said. "Senate Republicans will not work late into the night to fast track an agenda pursued by the Democrat majority that features back room deals between Democrats and special interests and numerous broken promises of collaboration and compromise."
Commissioners and staff at the Oregon Public Utility Commission believe the bill would increase electricity costs and shift risk from utilities to ratepayers. They also say it wouldn't actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to communications released to The Oregonian/OregonLive in response to a public records request.
Whether a wind farm gets built off the coast of Coos Bay depends on Oregon utilities' willingness to sign on — and so far, the cost of Principle Power's project has been a deterrent. In May 2014, Principle Power crossed a huge hurdle, receiving up to $47 million in matching grant funds from the U.S. Department of Energy over four years.
Jeff Bissonnette, policy director for the Citizens’ Utility Board and a registered lobbyist, said perhaps there might be other ways the state could support the project so ratepayers would not directly shoulder as much of the financial burden. Bissonnette reiterated comments by utility representatives that rates should not be used to pay for research and development projects, nor for economic development.
Now, the agency is under fire again for ignoring state rules and allowing recipients of its energy tax credits to resell them at firesale prices. Three top managers resigned recently, including the governor's energy advisor and the agency's chief financial officer. Utilities recently sued, claiming the agency was illegally manipulating annual assessments on energy companies to backfill its budget.
Principle Power, a Seattle-based company, needs a guaranteed stream of money from Oregon ratepayers to move forward with an offshore wind project.
The board voted 3-0 against the application and found Wheatridge failed “to provide adequate evidence to comply with Umatilla County and state of Oregon standards” and the “application does not comply with relevant state law standards and should be denied.”
The government's Energy Information Administration detailed the findings earlier this month in a study that showed falling wind energy production in California, Oregon and Washington state — typically known as a bastion for clean energy development. The agency didn't say how the wind energy slump would affect the electric grid, but it did say it could hinder wind farms from taking advantage of a key federal tax subsidy and harm their economic viability. Clean energy companies rely on the subsidy to fund projects. ...Even small changes in wind speed can dramatically reduce electricity output from wind turbines.
Jerry Rietmann, co-owner of the Ione-based Wheatridge Wind Energy, said the plan would make best use of both energy corridors to meet the region’s power needs. The route along the east side of Bombing Range Road could also become a singular site for new wind energy transmission, Rietmann said. Wheatridge Wind Energy is proposing a 500-megwatt wind farm in southern Morrow and Umatilla counties.
The extent of the investigation is unclear, but a senior auditor from the secretary of state’s office recently requested more than 70 pages of records on privately brokered sales of Oregon business energy tax credits from 2013.
An Oregon wind farm sued Portland General Electric Co., demanding that it buy the wind power on a schedule approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
A bill in the Oregon Legislature’s current session would have required the state’s two big investor-owned utilities, Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, to buy WindFloat’s ouput, with the above-market costs flowing through to ratepayers. But the utilities wanted no part of it and the bill went nowhere. The DOE has said developers can’t continue on the funding track without a power off-take agreement, and all three projects are facing an end-of-July deadline to report on their progress.
A year ago, the feds whittled their way from seven proposed projects, each of which had received $4 million in design and planning support, to a trio that would get as much as $47 million apiece to help fund construction. The goal was to have the projects up and running in 2017, but all three – Fishermen’s Energy in New Jersey, Dominion Virginia Power’s VOWTAP and now WindFloat – are facing potentially fatal cost-related challenges.
The U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Aviation Administration say they've developed a radar upgrade for the station in Fossil that will minimize conflict with proposed wind farms.
An outdated Air Force radar in Fossil is holding back nearly 4,000 megawatts of proposed wind energy across Eastern Oregon and Washington, according to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. Wyden is now asking top officials at the Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration to replace the system with technology that can overcome interference, or “clutter,” created by turbines.
Iberdrola Renewables is seeking permission to delay construction of the 404MW Montague wind project in Oregon by two years.
On Feb. 25, Maxwell Woods of the Oregon Department of Energy sent out an email announcing that E.ON Climate & Renewables North America had withdrawn its application for the 76,000-acre Brush Canyon Wind Power Facility that would have had as many as 223 wind turbines — some reaching within 2 miles of Antelope and Shaniko.