Portland’s Renewable Energy Pipe Dream

windturbine.serendipityThumb Portland’s Renewable Energy Pipe DreamBy William Newell

Since 2001 the City of Portland has aimed to obtain all of its electricity from renewable sources. More than 10 years later, the City has failed to meet its own goals, even after renewing the pledge in 2009 and again in 2012.

To achieve its long-standing goal, the City has sought to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs), which are said to “offset” emissions from electricity use. Unfortunately, RECs have major problems.

First, RECs are not required to show what emissions were avoided in their “production,” so there are few concrete savings for the City to claim. Second, intermittent energy sources require back-up power to maintain grid reliability. When wind dies down, as it often does, the system must make up the shortfall from natural gas and coal plants. Because some plants must “idle” while others “rev” their electricity production up and down, the plants utilize more fuel to produce less electricity. This ends up mitigating much of the claimed pollution savings.

Many Portlanders dream that the City can perfectly meld an urban forest with the concrete jungle, but behind Portland’s green curtain is an unaccountable government wasting taxpayer dollars on what amount to environmental “indulgences.”

William Newell is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. He is a graduate of Willamette University.

Learn more at cascadepolicy.org.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Energy, Portland | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Marrcus

    Portland is no different than Detroit. Left wing politics has thrown it into debt more than anyone cares to acknowledge. Trust me on this. Portland is doomed to fail. And it is left wing nut jobs who are to blame.

  • bob clark

    While Portland city hall spends tens of millions on feel good stuff, it neglects basic city services. Portland city hall should be ashamed of itself for not for example shifting resources from downtown high end public projects to putting in sidewalks along Powell blvd. The city doesn’t need a new tax, but rather needs to re-proirtize its spending.

    • DavidAppell

      Renewable energy is not “feel good stuff.” Coal-fired generation facilities created at least $62B/yr in (nonclimate) health costs in the U.S. (in 2005, in 2007 dollars), according the report “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use” by the National Academy of Sciences. That’s 3.2 cents/kWhr, or an average of over $800 a year for a family of four.

      We all pay that. It just doesn’t show up on your utility bill.

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  • Ubiquitous B. God

    This piece is moronic and idiotic. I guess it would be better to not even try to overcome our dependence on finite, deadly sources of power? Maybe things would look different and perspectives less crappy if the author and his ilk pull their head out of their nether regions, clean the filter they see things through and take a real look at the world around them, instead of viewing it through a filter smeared with their own fecal matter. Their outlook stinks. OH yeah, and seek help for their anger problems.

    • Ballistic45

      I love it when lefties get all uppity, blowin snot, knuckle draggen, tree shaken, chest thumpen when anyone questions their agenda… What a hoot… LOLOTF …

      • lulzpdx

        Now you know how we feel about you, and what a laugh you give us. :)

        • Ballistic45

          My humor of you comes from knowing the History of Socialism and its failures, and the idiocy of keep repeating the crap thinking it will turn out different.. Your humor of me comes from lack of Oxygen from having your head up the lemmings ass in front of you as you all stand in line for the Kool aid…

          • lulzpdx

            Speaking of repeating crap… ;)

          • guest

            “Christmas is a quest. May each of US follow His star of faith and find the hearts own Bethlehem.”

          • lulzpdx

            LOL.. yes, I’m already familiar with the lunatic Christian/Conservative fringe and their insistence that the teachings apply to everyone but themselves.
            And Happy Festivus to you!

          • guest

            Shame is yours for making such a ridiculous assertion.

          • Ballistic45

            Is that all ya got? Pitap, Pitap, Pitap, that’s all Folks…

          • lulzpdx

            It is all your comments are worth. :) Why exert more time, energy and thought than you do?
            Although you’ve got me on right-wing loony/crazy. I bow to you there.

          • guest

            l@ lulzpdx, let go of the hatred, at least on this Christmas ‘observance’ day – and allow the warmth and teachings of our Creator’s God’s beloved Son and Redeemer be a lamp unto your feet and illuminate the most wonderful way out the darkness where you don’t really desire to dwell.

          • DavidAppell

            From each according to their smokestack, to each according to their lungs.

            Such socialism has been happening for decades — private companies keep all the profits, and dump the health costs of their products onto the public.

            How is that fair?

          • Ballistic45

            More Communist Jibberish…. No use reasoning with a indoctrinated mind, like any addict, they will not change until they have had enough of THEIR OWN BS….

          • .

            From the pyramids along Appell’s bile, grape intellect flows.

    • .

      UBG, You appear to be a blithering mental midget with a set of problems you need to shed.

  • thevillageidiot

    OK So you are ok with Killing birds to create “clean energy”



    and to bring it home you are really OK with Killing eagles in Oregon?


    and not to mention human health risks if you live near them.


    yeah that one may be a stretch but there is no way you are going to believe me if I just quote numbers.

    and just for thought


    As for energy independence the US is already the world leader in Natural gas production and reserves. soon to be the leader in Oil production and very large reserves. and soon to be considered Oil independent according to the IEA.

    biomass is considered a re-newble energy source and you want to know what the number one use is? Heat. that means wood. lets all burn more wood. see how that flies with the anti timber people.

    what rock do you live under?

    • DavidAppell

      Re: killing birds — Would you rather they be killed with acid rain, mercury poisoning, and climate change?

      If so, why?

      • .

        What a hoot it would be…seeing Appell dressed as a barred owl when the green police come culling out his way.

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