The Portland Sustainability Commission recently recommended that the City Council approve a $500 million propane export facility proposed by Pembina Corporation. However, as part of its approval, the Commission is requiring that 100% of the electricity used at the export facility be generated by Oregon renewable energy sources.
This is an impossible standard to meet. Therefore, the Commission is actually killing the proposal while appearing to support it.
We know that the requirement is impossible because Portland has already tried it. In 2001, the City Council publicly committed that by 2010 all electricity consumed by city bureaus would come from renewable energy sources. Yet, despite great efforts, Portland never came close to meeting the goal by 2010.
Notwithstanding this failure, in 2009 the City pledged to meet the 100% goal by 2012, with a new aspiration of supplying 15% of the total electricity load from self-generated green power. By the end of 2012, the City had only reached 8% self-generation, and total green power reached just 14% of all consumption.
If Portland has consistently failed to meet the 100% goal over a 14-year period, it should not impose the same requirement on a private facility.
John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.