Oregon To Phase Out Coal, Incentivize Biomass Energy

– by Anna Simet, March 4, 2016, Biomass Magazine

Oregon’s Bioenergy Resource Map thumbnail

Graphic: Biomass Magazine

Oregon has passed a bill that doubles its renewable portfolio standard (RPS), phases out coal power by 2025 and provides incentives to energy efficiency, small- and community-scale renewable projects and some existing biomass energy plants.

The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plant received final approval in the Senate on March 2, after passing through the House in a 38-20 vote earlier in the week. It increases its current RPS of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, a law initially passed in 2007, to 50 percent by 2040.

By January 2030, all electric utilities must eliminate coal-fired resources from their electricity allocation.

As under the existing RPS, renewable electricity may be used to comply with the RPS only if it is generated by a facility that becomes operational on or after January 1, 1995, with the exception of biomass plants. Electricity from biomass facilities—plants that use municipal solid waste or wood—that became operational before that date, but meet requirements of the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, may be used to comply.

Under SB 1547, by 2025, at least eight percent of Oregon’s retail electrical load of all electric companies that sell power to 25,000 or more retail consumers in-state must be composed of electricity generated by one or more small-scale renewable energy projects with a generating capacity of 20 megawatts or less, or biomass-using electric facilities that also generate thermal energy for a secondary purpose.

Renewable energy certificates (RECs) will be issued for biomass electric facilities that also generate heat, with 3.412 Btu equaling one megawatt-hour.

Among other major components of the bill, which includes changes to rules regarding the banking and use of RECs, is also creation of a community solar program.

Electric utilities affected by the bill include Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, both of which have released statements in support of the legislation, and Eugene Water and Electric Board.

Among other major components of the bill, which includes changes to rules regarding the banking and use of RECs, is also creation of a community solar program.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown, who is expected to sign the bill.

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