Oregon Municipal Electric Utilities (OMEU) Policy Positions in the 2021 Oregon State Legislative Assembly:
100% Clean Energy Standard
- Two bills have been introduced this Session requiring Oregon utilities to rely solely on renewable and non-emitting generation to serve Oregon customers. HB 2995 HB2995 (oregonlegislature.gov) and HB 3180 HB3180 (oregonlegislature.gov). In evaluating these proposals, it is important to recognize that Oregon’s consumer-owned utilities, including municipal electric utilities, have the cleanest energy resources of any utilities in Oregon. View more information about the Electricity Mix in Oregon on the Oregon State Government Website.
- OMEU utilities purchase nearly all of our energy from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). BPA’s supply comes from the Federal Columbia River Power System, which includes 31 hydroelectric projects with a capacity to deliver more than 22,000 megawatts of power, and the Columbia Generating Station (CGS) nuclear power plant, which provides 1,207 megawatts. The only fossil in our mix comes from unspecified market purchases that are necessary to balance the system. While market purchases can vary depending on the water year and special fish operations, on average, our existing mix is already 95% carbon-free. (Note that while unspecified purchases to replace lost generation may include natural gas, such purchases are often carbon-free solar, wind or non-BPA hydro.)
- All hydropower, as well as nuclear, must be eligible as “non-emitting resources” under a 100% standard. The Federal Columbia River Power System is a critical asset needed to balance intermittent resources like wind and solar generation.
- Mechanisms for compliance must recognize the inherent variability of the hydropower system and the necessity of market purchases. For example, multi-year averaging should be allowed.
- In recognition of our minuscule carbon footprint, legislation should include an exemption for full requirements customers of BPA. Barring a radical change in the BPA mix, which is on average 95% carbon-free, COUs should be deemed compliant. Regardless, given our existing clean mix, the COU trajectory for any compliance obligation must use a different baseline than investor-owned utilities and be focused on meeting load growth beyond the Tier 1 BPA contract allocation.
- Legislation must include cost-caps and avoid costly overbuild of transmission and renewable resources. Compliance should be based on the procurement of resources, not actual delivery to load.
- Off-ramps must be included for system reliability and to ensure peak loads are met, particularly during low-water years.
- COU compliance must rest with COU governing boards, not the Public Utilities Commission.
Wildfire Utility Plans
Several bills are being considered this session to address the devasting impacts of the 2020 Labor Day Fires and to prepare for future wildfire events, including HB 2722 HB2722 (oregonlegislature.gov) and a proposal from Governor Brown, SB 287 SB0287 (oregonlegislature.gov).
OMEU recognizes the threat wildfire poses to our mission of safe, reliable, and affordable electricity. We are redoubling our efforts to prevent and mitigate fire risk. OMEU agrees that all utilities should evaluate wildfire risk. However, legislation must recognize that service territories vary widely and that each utility has a unique risk profile. Wildfire utility plans must be tailored to the risks of the utility. OMEU supports the approach in both bills, as introduced, which recognize that wildfire plans are operational decisions that should be approved by the consumer-owned utility’s governing board.