New Renewable Energy Option Offered in U.S. Northwest

Residential and small commercial consumers in Oregon can purchase electricity from a ‘salmon friendly’ green power program that has been launched by Pacific Power and Portland General Electric.

PORTLAND, Oregon, US, 2002-01-16 [SolarAccess.com] The two utilities have added two renewable power options to the green products currently offered. The 100 percent renewable energy options are available under the state’s new electricity industry restructuring law, Senate Bill 1149, which requires that the utilities provide customers with options for electric service. The Oregon restructuring law takes effect on March 1, and enrollment has just started. The new green power options will be provided by Green Mountain Energy, and the electricity will be generated from a combination of wind and geothermal, with the former coming from windfarms in the Pacific Northwest and the latter coming from geothermal fields in the western region. The utilities will continue to offer their own renewable power products: ‘Blue Sky’ from Pacific Power and ‘Clean Wind’ from PGE. One of the three options is the ‘Renewable Usage’ program, which allows customers to option all their electricity from renewable sources at an average monthly premium of $6 to $8. The ‘Fixed Renewable’ option allow customers to buy fixed amounts of power from windfarms, to supplement their basic electricity service. The ‘Habitat’ option provides electricity from wind and geothermal, and adds salmon habitat protection by contributing to the Pacific Salmon Watershed Fund. Pacific Power customers who choose this option will pay an additional $2.50 each month while PGE customers will pay an additional kilowatt-hour charge that will average to $1.90 per month. The additional payments will go directly to projects that restore salmon habitat. This option replaces PGE’s original Salmon-Friendly Power program. Compared with electricity generated from coal, wind and geothermal energy avoids the displacement of 1,750 pounds of carbon dioxide for an average home, according to GME officials. “By choosing Green Mountain Energy(SM) electricity, consumers and businesses are able to personally support the Oregon environment, help keep Oregon clean, and even help restore salmon habitats,” says company official Karen Norris. “This is a win- win for Oregonians because they get to choose where their electricity comes from, but they don’t have to switch from the utility they know and trust. Because Oregon is such an environmentally progressive state, we expect large numbers of customers to sign up for these ‘green’ energy options.” “Giving electricity customers access to several new choices encourages variety and innovation to better serve the individual needs of consumers,” explains Roy Hemmingway, chairman of the Oregon Public Utility. “Oregon’s restructuring plan is significantly different from California’s deregulation plan. We are taking a go-slow approach in Oregon, and utilities here were not required to take the same steps as utilities in California, which ultimately created problems in that state.” Oregon’s restructuring law and rules for its implementation change the way energy efficiency programs are delivered to customers. In the past, energy efficiency efforts were largely driven by the utilities through their own programs. The law shifts that responsibility to an independent organization called the Energy Trust, and establishes an annual expenditure for the utilities of 3 percent of revenues to fund Public Purposes,’ including energy efficiency, development of new renewable energy and low-income weatherization. Pacific Power serves 520,000 Oregon customers with energy. Its parent company, PacifiCorp, generates 8,000 MW of energy from coal, hydro, gas, geothermal, cogeneration and wind. PGE is Oregon’s oldest and largest utility, with 733,000 customers.

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