This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 24, 2002

Oregon Group Seeks 25 to 100 Megawatts of Wind Power

The Energy Trust of Oregon-a new nonprofit organization for promoting clean energy in the state-started its renewable energy programs in a big way when it requested proposals for 25 to 100 megawatts of wind power on July 16th. The Energy Trust is seeking one or more wind energy projects that must begin generating power before the federal production tax credit expires at the end of 2003. Successful bidders will sign a long-term purchase agreement with either Portland General Electric (PGE) or PacifiCorp, and the Energy Trust will pay up to $8.5 million to cover the difference between the cost of the wind power and the utility's purchase price. Proposals are due August 21st, and the Energy Trust will make its selection in fall.

Launched in March, the Energy Trust is funded by a 3 percent charge on electricity sold by PGE and PacifiCorp, the state's two largest electric utilities. The charge was established as part of Oregon's electric restructuring law. In addition to the wind energy project, the Energy Trust has tentatively agreed to help fund two renewable energy projects: a solar power installation at the Brewery Blocks, a development project in Portland's Pearl District, and a biogas energy project at Threemile Canyon Farms, a 41,000-acre farm near Boardman in eastern Oregon. The biogas project is expected to generate an average of 3.85 megawatts of power for 15 years at a cost of $1.5 million.

The Energy Trust has also launched three pilot energy efficiency programs: a program to replace 750 green traffic lights with light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, a program to seal exposed heating ducts in 1,000 existing manufactured homes, a program to provide low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects in public buildings, and a program to offer rebates for energy management system installations in restaurants. See the Energy Trust of Oregon Web site.

To date, 15 states have created systems similar to Oregon's, usually using a small electric surcharge to generate so-called "clean energy funds." Two recent reports from DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) examined existing clean energy funds in terms of their support for solar power projects and large-scale renewable projects. For solar power, most funds help pay the installation cost of the system, an approach that has led to about 24 megawatts of installed solar power nationwide. For utility-scale projects, $265 million in state funds have been allocated to date for 1,500 megawatts of new renewable power capacity. So far, however, only a small fraction of this capacity has been built, largely because developers couldn't find long-term buyers for their power. The expiration of the federal production tax credit also played a role. Note that both of these factors are at play in the Oregon wind project. See the May 2002 reports on the LBNL Web site.

Features