IRP Quick Read

A responsible, diverse energy mix

We’re committed to bringing sustainable, reliable and affordable energy to our customers.

Renewables are key

We share our customers’ values, priorities, and commitment to reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Renewable energy is a core part of our strategy to achieve our proportionate share of Oregon’s 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goal, so our near-term plan calls for adding the equivalent of another major wind farm.

That’s part of a broader strategy focused on building a smarter, cleaner, more resilient grid that integrates new renewables while maintaining reliable and affordable electric service for all our customers.

Through cleaner electricity, we are not only dramatically reducing carbon emissions on our system, we will also enable significant carbon reductions across the energy economy by making it easier to transition off carbon-intensive fuels in other sectors – like using electricity in transportation to power cars and trucks instead of gasoline or diesel.

What’s the plan?

We expect our energy mix to be 70% carbon free by 2040 based on current commitments and mandates, and we're working to deliver the right resources and technologies to make that happen.

There are lots of ways to meet Oregon’s growing energy needs and environmental goals. Our plan is flexible so that we can consider all available options and the best way to integrate them, including:

  • Renewable energy such as wind and solar
  • Hydroelectric power from existing facilities
  • Geothermal energy
  • Energy storage
  • Buying energy from others through mid- and long-term contracts

No matter what, we will:

  • Meet Oregon’s renewable power goals with 20 percent qualifying renewables by 2020 and 50 percent by 2040, on top of our existing, emissions-free hydroelectric resources. The next step on our clean energy path is the addition of 100 average megawatts of new renewables to our system by 2020.
  • Reduce carbon emissions. We avoid almost 2 million tons of CO2 emissions now and will avoid more than 10 million tons by 2040 on our way to being 70 percent carbon free.
  • Meet the shortfall we face when we stop burning coal at our Boardman plant in 2020.

How will we do this?

  • First, by using less energy. We’ll continue to help customers save energy and shift their use during energy “rush hours.”
  • Second, by adding more renewable power such as wind and solar while we can still take advantage of savings (from federal tax credits and favorable market conditions) – savings that we can pass on to customers.
  • Third, by adding generation resources we can ramp up and down quickly to meet electricity demand when renewables and energy storage alone can’t do it. We’re currently in negotiations with owners of existing generating facilities in the Northwest who have extra capacity that could meet this need; we expect to complete negotiations in 2018 and bring the needed resources into our mix over the next several years.

How does this fit in with Oregon’s energy future?

All of this is part of a larger strategy PGE is unfolding to make the power grid smarter, cleaner, more flexible and more resilient. That strategy also includes initiatives to modernize grid technologies, support transportation electrification, offer customers more green power options, partner with customers to promote distributed generating resources and voluntary programs to reduce demand in peak periods, and integrate energy storage technologies at multiple levels of the power system.

This also includes improved coordination with other utilities and generating facilities through participation in organized markets like the western Energy Imbalance Market. The EIM lets us maximize use of renewable power across the region – and minimize carbon emissions – by making efficient use of California solar resources and Northwest wind resources and minimizing our need to turn on natural gas-fired generation during peak demand periods.

What’s next?

The Oregon Public Utility Commission and many individual Oregonians and advocacy groups had extensive input into our plan, and based on their values, priorities and guidance we made significant revisions. The OPUC signed off on our revised plan in August and December 2016, and we are ready to go to work implementing it.

In addition to the negotiations we have underway for access to existing, flexible generating capacity, we plan to issue a Request for Proposals in 2018 to seek an additional 100 average megawatts of new renewable generating resources to serve our customers. An independent evaluator will oversee the RFP process to ensure we find the best deal (or deals) for our customers.

We’re also moving ahead with ongoing programs to capture energy efficiency, upgrade grid and customer service technologies, and partner with our customers on distributed generating resources.