Posted by: robineverett | August 14, 2009

Record energy use and PGE’s energy plan

Sierra Club volunteers at EPA rally

Sierra Club volunteers at EPA rally

Yesterday, Robin Everett, our Beyond Coal Campaign Organizer, was quoted in a Portland Tribune article on PGE’s future energy mix. “It’s time to phase out Boardman and increase the use of renewable energy and efficiency to meet future demand,” says Robin Everett. The article points out that Portland had plenty of energy through record breaking energy use in the heat wave without PGE’s two main coal plants and without wind powering wind turbines. Two of PGE’s coal plants, the Boardman coal plant in Oregon and the Colstrip coal plant in Montana were both down for extended maintenance. The heat also decreased wind, thus decreasing wind power. PGE provided power by buying it from other utilities in the west.

This news is especially important because PGE is in the process of planning their energy mix for the next 20 years. On July 31st, PGE proposed a plan that would increase their reliance on fossil fuels. They presented scenarios that included buying an increased portion of the Boardman coal plant in eastern Oregon and building additional natural gas plants. PGE disregarded options to phase out of the Boardman coal plant and increase renewable energy and energy efficiency.

PGE’s proposal completely ignores the urgency of global warming and the importance of reducing pollution. PGE has taken a huge step backward not just for rate payers but also for the State of Oregon. If they choose to increase their reliance on coal Oregon’s carbon reduction goals will not be met. By choosing fossil fuels instead of renewable energy, PGE is passing up the opportunity to cut their carbon emissions, please their ratepayers by building renewable energy, and save money by investing in energy efficiency.

For more information on PGE’s energy plan check out the Sierra Club blog.



  1. You’re not telling the whole story. The Tribune said Oregon was OK during our heat wave because California and others had unusually cool weather. If the entire West Coast gets a heat wave, Oregon won’t be able to buy power anywhere.

    Also, please explain your comment that “the wind is blowing and the sun is shining somewhere.” If that’s not where the wind farms or solar plants are located, what’s the point?

    • Hi Pitsy, thanks for your comments.

      I made the point of Boardman being unavailable not to say that we would be fine without the power, but to point out that coal is not as reliable as it is made out to be. Not only was PGE’s Boardman coal plant unexpectedly down, but so was their Colstrip plant in Montana.

      Additionaly, yes of course we would need the infrastructure to capitalize on wind and solar, that is why we need to make a lot more investments in renewable energy. Wind and solar currently make up 1% of Oregon’s energy mix, we need to do better.

  2. Cambridge, MA has undertaken a massive project to insulate and upgrade old commercial buildings in the city. They expect this to save about 20% of their former power usage.

    With Energy Trust incentives, I hope the Sierra Club folks will really push similar measures in Oregon.

    • Hi Elizabeth, yes we are really pushing for strong efficiency. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council just released figures showing that we can meet 85% of our regional load growth with efficiency alone. Clearly this is an underutilized market that will greatly shape the solutions to our current energy problems. As you probably know, we are largely a volunteer driven organization and ee would love to have your continued involvement in our campaign to help us push these kind of great solutions.


  3. I am positive that we can do without this coal here in our State of Oregon. We can all use solar power is need be. There is positively no current reasonings for this to being used right at this day and time, or ever? We know of so many other way’s to use energy resources without this being one of them. Stop this nonsense now and move on.

  4. This site lists the users of Powder River coal:

    Oregon isn’t even listed! I missed most of the ranchers comments so I guess I missed something, but I don’t see how shutting down coal here is going to do much for Powder River?

    Is the power we bought coal generated?

    Can you give us some idea of what % of our power is Hydro,Coal,Natural Gas,Wind, Solar etc.?

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