Northwest Renewable Energy
5:00 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Northwest Utilities Exceed Green Power Minimum

Electric utilities in the Northwest have overachieved in meeting requirements to add renewable energy to their portfolios. That's according to fresh regulatory filings.

All of the large utilities in Washington and Oregon covered by green energy requirements met the minimum threshold for this year. In Washington state, that's 3 percent of generation. The goal escalates to 15 percent by 2020.

Oregon's renewable energy standard for large utilities is 5 percent this year and increases in steps to 25 percent by the year 2025.

To achieve compliance for this year, Northwest utilities mostly bought wind power, but also hydropower dam upgrades and solar, or burned landfill gas or wood chips.

Energy analyst Dave Warren with Washington's PUD Association says some utilities are concerned the tougher upcoming targets will force them to buy green energy they don't need.

Warren: "I don't know if everyone realizes it, but we're having to curtail some of that wind (power) in the spring when we have high water because we have an excess."

The environmentally-oriented Northwest Energy Coalition says the renewable portfolio law is driving new investment in clean energy and doing exactly what the voters wanted. (Washington's version passed via citizen initiative in 2006.) The coalition is planning a party this week to celebrate the law's success.

Idaho does not have a Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

On the Web:

Washington State Dept. of Commerce - energy office:
http://www.commerce.wa.gov/site/1001/default.aspx

Oregon Public Utilities Commission:
http://cms.oregon.gov/puc/consumer/Renewables11911.pdf