Oregon consumers will pay more for electricity via the backroom deal between big utilities and environmentalists. Click To Tweet

Wind Turbines in Washington State
Photograph by Jeffrey G. Katz, Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18589206

Robert Nyquist, chairman of the Linn County Board of Commissioners in Albany, Oregon, provided a spotlight on an expensive future for Oregon if PGE, PacifiCorp, and environmentalists have their way (Albany Democrat-Herald).

Oregon consumers will pay more for electricity and get less in return if the Oregon legislature okays the backroom deal between big utilities and environmentalists (House Bill #4036).

What happened the last time the Oregon legislature required utilities to meet a specific percentage of their electric generation using renewable energy sources like “wind, solar and geothermal power, but not the clean, sustainable hydro power Oregon has in abundance?”

In the years since passage, PGE undertook two projects that are worthy of examining.

The Tucannon Wind Farm was designed to help meet 2007 Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements. The Carty Natural Gas Plant was not. Both cost about the same, a little over $500 million each.

What did Oregon consumers get for these half-a-billion dollar investments? Did they get the same new energy capacity? Not at all. Wind, as you may have noticed, doesn’t blow all the time.

So you have to factor in the actual capacity of the Carty Natural Gas Plant vs. the Tucannon Wind Farm. Carty operates at 70% capacity and produces 308 megawatts. Tucannon, by contrast, operates at 37% and produces only 98 megawatts. In short, PGE has to build 3.14 Tucannon-sized wind farms to equal the kilowatt production of one Carty-sized gas plant.

It would cost $1.67 billion to build 3+ wind farms versus $514 million for one gas-fired plant. That’s a cost difference of $1.133 billion for the same amount of power.

PGE and PacifiCorp spend more for much less energy under the existing RPS law. But don’t worry about these big utilities. They can charge Oregon ratepayers for that cost difference and tack on their guaranteed profit in the bargain.

This cost disparity will only get worse under the deal that the big utilities reached behind closed doors with the environmentalists. It will cost over $11 billion to add the additional 3,000 megawatts of RPS-mandated renewable power called for in the deal. Who pays that additional $11 billion? Once again, Oregon electric consumers.

As Roger Nyquist noted in his editorial, “Leaving future Oregon ratepayers holding the bag for an extra $11.04 billion would be nervy enough, but PGE and PacifiCorp managed to include several special goodies for themselves in the backroom deal. They would reverse earlier PUC decisions that saved Oregon electric customers tens of millions of dollars not just for one year, but for years into the future.”

Again, big utilities make out like bandits, while consumers pay through the nose. And birds continue to die.

Big utilities make out like bandits, while consumers pay through the nose. And birds continue to die. Click To Tweet

Broken Wing: Birds, Blades and Broken Promises, an incredible account of the broken promises of the wind industry, is available now as a Kindle ebook on Amazon.
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