2009 Greenhouse Gas Bill could make electric bills go up $400 a year

Associated rate increases could further hurt Oregon businesses’ ability to compete

by Bob Clark

Portland General Electric (PGE) residential customers could see their electricity bills increase by an additional 38% over current trends, according to a study released by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC).  Oregon SB 101 is legislation from 2009 furthering the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by utilities for target date 2020 and beyond.  The OPUC report estimates the SB 101 greenhouse goal, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent less than 1990 emission levels, would cause PGE rates and bills to increase by approximately 38% (roughly $400 per year for the average PGE residential customer).

PGE would be forced to sell or shutter its share in a second coal plant, ColStrip units 3 and 4 (near Billings, Montana). PGE’s other coal plant, Boardman, is already scheduled for shutdown in 2020. The cost of power supplied by Colstrip is only about 3 cents per KWH, well below the average existing energy supply cost for PGE of around 6 cents per KWH.   PGE would meet most of its demand growth, and replacement power for Colstrip, with additional wind turbines and simple cycle natural gas turbines, both of which have a projected cost of 10 cents per KWH and higher.

To date, BPA’s Grand Coulee Dam has been the linchpin in smoothing out variance in wind generation regionally, but this regional storage mechanism is reaching its limits in storing additional amounts of wind generation.  Therefore, the OPUC study goes on to state:  “while it will be challenging to meet the 2020 greenhouse reduction goals, maintaining the goals will also be difficult.”  In essence, additional wind generation for PGE requires expensive back up systems that are either not technically feasible or, in the case of simple cycle combustion turbines, cause emissions themselves.

SB 101 greenhouse reduction goals might cause a reduction or even loss in competitiveness for the local area economy, relative to the national economy.  The chart below based on recent trends (years 2000 through 2009) shows PGE maintaining an average rate of one penny per KWH less than the national average through the year 2020, without SB101 greenhouse gas reductions.  PGE came into the new century sporting a two cent discount in power rates to the national average.  However, the SB101 greenhouse reduction goal could turn PGE’s electric rate into a significant disadvantage.  If the nation were to stay put on reducing greenhouse gases while Oregon pursued its ambitious greenhouse reduction goal, it is estimated PGE’s average electricity rate would exceed the national average by upwards of four cents per KWH by the year 2020.  Local and state leaders concerned with the local economy definitely need to gauge, then, the course of how Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the courts unravel the current stalemate over national greenhouse gas regulation.

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  • Rupert in Springfield

    But look at the upside – like most green welfare programs, the PGE program does benefit some people, even if it hurts substantially more through increased rates. I really think there needs to be more focus in these sorts of articles on who is raking in the loot.

    Where are all these high rates going? How much are windmill hawking companies raking in? Who are the people getting the subsidized solar panels put in so they can get reduced electricity rates while forcing others to pay more? They say they are saving the planet. I say lets celebrate them by putting a face on them. Lets bring these people out of the shadows and start identifying them and their profits from all of us.

    • valley person

      Start with yourself in the mirror, with your energy sucking business living off of federally subsidized hydropower.

      Yes, it will cost more per kilowatt hour for green energy. But guess what? Its pretty easy & cheap for consumers to use fewer kilowatt hours, so the $400 increase in bills is a consumer choice, not a guaranteed outcome of the switch away from coal.

      And news flash Todd, coal is not “cheaper” if you factor in its environmental impacts, which include S02, acid rain, haze, particulates, mountaintop removal, ash heaps that wash into rivers, and climate change. Its only cheaper if we pass the costs onto others.

      • valley person

        Sorry, I meant news flash for Bill, not Todd.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          Billl? Todd? Yet you put your reply to me?

          Ok – You were a little out of it when you wrote this post.

          Alright – so a part of your income is derived from giving expert testimony on windmill farm site location. We all know that, you have a dog in the fight and so obviously you protect your income.

          However please don’t expect that we all are total fools. We aren’t switching away from coal. Oregon turning off coal fueled plants to but dopey green welfare power while then selling that coal to China results in nothing other than Oregonians paying more for power. There is no net reduction of the coal use, even if one did subscribe to the AGW belief system.

          Look, you make money off these scams, and thats great for you. My point was not about whether or not green welfare programs accomplish anything beyond wealth transfer. My point was that the people making money off of others from them should be more widely known.

          After all, if that are really are saving the planet, shouldn’t those doing so have their names known? Wouldn’t they want their names lauded? Wouldn’t they be proud of how they make their money?

          Arent you?

      • Steve Plunk

        Wow, where to start. Since hydro power was paid for years ago any subsidy is small and it adds power to the grid nationally so the subsidy argument is pretty hollow. The $400 increase is not a consumer choice it’s government mandate. What choice do they have? Can they opt out?

        Acid rain? Strip mining? Climate change? All tired stories. Acid rain was dropped by the environmental nuts when it was proven a false theory. That’s why we now hear climate change instead of acid rain when they want to stop something. Modern strip mining rules require complete rehabilitation of damaged public lands. The spillovers have long been addressed with regards to coal yet the environmentalists just come up with more false claims.

        While reasonably priced electricity is good for the poor the greens can’t seem to ever put the human element in their calculations. Warm homes and jobs make more sense to me than closing coal plants only to see the smoke roll in from Chinese coal fired plants. It’s time we demand the nonsense of anti human environmental thugs be put aside so people can get jobs and feed their families. That’s a human right as much as anything else.

        • valley person

          Hydro power was not paid for years ago. In fact, ratepayers in the NW, especially those served by public utilities like the one in Springfield, get a sweetheart deal and are only very slowly paying back the investment made by national taxpayers decades ago. As a business person, you should know something about borrowing money and then paying it back. That is what we did with public dams, only we got very cheap interest rates and a way long term, indefinite term loan.

          The estimated $400 increase in annual rate is a consumer choice in that the consumer can choose to use less electricity, or put up solar collectors rather than pay extra to PGE. They can go completely of grid if they want, so yes, they can opt out.

          Tired stories? No Steve, facts of burning coal. Acid rain is a “false theory?” No Steve, its established fact. Climate change is also established fact. It has already happened, with more on the way. Strip mining in the form of mountaintop removal does not “completely rehab” anything. You can’t rehab a landform that is no longer there, with half of it dumped in valleys below. You can’t make the runnoff less acid by re-grading the topsoil. Take your head out of the sand and read something useful.

          And please, don’t invoke “the poor” to me ok? Why do conservatives point to the poor whenever it is convenient, and ignore them or crap on them the rest of the time? When did you ever care whether people can feed their families or not? When you oppose raising the minimum wage? When you oppose unions? When you oppose Social Security? Food stamps?

          • Steve Plunk

            I’ll ignore your first few paragraphs since they are wrong. As far as the poor go you need to understand conservatives do more for the poor than liberals ever will. Liberals tend to use the poor rather than help them.

            I grew up poor, was poor in college, and come from a long line of real Okies, migrant farm workers who settled in Oregon. Conservatives like me believe in opportunity more than hand outs that breed dependence. We believe in ourselves more than government. Unions? They suck money from the members so the union officials can have easy jobs. The public sector unions never represented the poor. We don’t oppose Social Security but just want it fixed and solvent. We know raising the minimum wage squeezes small business and puts teens out of work. The only time a conservative raises an eyebrow about food stamps is when the obese are buying Ding Dongs or the best steaks. Your straw men are nonexistent. No my friend, you have not cornered the market on understanding the poor and your ignorance/arrogance in thinking you have is telling.

          • Terry

            Wow. You don’t oppose Social Security but just want it fixed and solvent.

            So I’m going to guess you support something along the lines of raising the ‘retirement’ age to collect benefits, and/or cutting benefits.

            Each ‘fix’ is highly regressive, since low-wage workers on average die earlier than than the rest of us. So every year you raise the retirement age screws more people who pay into the system for decades and die before getting anything back.

            But there’s plenty of bipartisan blame to go around: we’ve all heard or read about Alan Grayson’s famous claim that ‘Republcans want you to die quickly.’

            The inconvenient truth is that Social Security’s continued existence requires millions to die early – without collecting what they have paid in – and Democrats designed it that way.

          • Steve Plunk

            Actually raising the retirement age is one of the fixes that will become necessary. If we don’t so things like that the system will fail. I find it frustrating that when the reality of what needs to happen is brought up somehow it’s demonized even though the status quo will kill it. Before you start bashing the “rich” I would also say I support a needs test that reduces benefits for those who don’t need them. That’s not a regressive fix at all.

            The original retirement age of 65 was set up at a time when the average life expectancy was only about 67 or 68 years. That was generations ago. We have ignored the need to adjust retirement age to the point of endangering the whole system. What was designed as a safety net became the primary source of retirement income for many.

            It’s just wrong for liberals to say Republicans/Conservatives oppose Social Security when in fact we are trying to do the responsible thing and save it. It’s also wrong for liberals to try and lecture anyone about the plight of the poor. It’s been their policies that have kept the poor down for so long.

          • Mary’s Opinion

            We’re going to have to get the economy fixed and get employers to change their thinking about employing workers who are old enough to collect Social Security before seniors can keep or find jobs if the retirement age is raised. Can enough jobs be created/recovered to continue to employee senior workers and provide for young workers entering the market? I don’t hear anyone talking about this.

          • Todd

            VP,

            I would suggest reading the NAPAP report on acid rain.

            If you do not have time to plow through 1000 of pages refuting your thoughts on acid rain then you can read a summary here: http://www.heartland.org/bin/media/publicpdf/23043a.pdf

            Congress in 1980 authorized a ten-year, $500 million study of acid rain.

            The research effort, called the National Acid Precipitation
            Assessment Program (NAPAP), involved hundreds of scientists conducting extensive laboratory and field investigations around the country.

            In 1987, NAPAP issued an Interim Assessment, but release of the final report was delayed until after passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

            The NAPAP study found that claims of the destructive effects of acid rain are much exaggerated. Acid ruin poses little or no threat to forests, crops, human health, or lakes.

            Once again, billions of dollars are wasted battling a problem that doesn’t exist.

            But the environmental movement, having sold acid rain as an urgent problem requiring your immediate financial contribution, chose simply to ignore the study.

            Sound familiar to the current GW debate?

          • valley person

            Todd, you are delusionsal. You cite a report from the Heartland Institute, about the most biased, non scientific organization out there, dated from 1994, to refute the fact that acid rain is harmful, and that in fact the US has been reducing acid rain emissions successfully for 2 decades now?

            The EPA has been all over this for decades. Sorry buddy. That horse has too long been out of the barn. Acid rain is pollution, and it is harmful, and no thanks to the likes of you guys, its a problem that is being addressed.

            Yes, I guess it is similar to the GW debate now that you mention it. Reality against reality denial. Hello in there. Wake up.

            http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/aqrs/reports/napapreport05.pdf

          • Dean Apostile (Valley person): Yes, I guess it is similar to the GW debate now that you mention it. Reality against reality denial. Hello in there. Wake up.
            JK: Hey reality denier, I have been asking YOU for months to show us some evidence that man’s CO2 is causing harmful warming. You have NEVER shown any evidence, again proving that this greenie crap is just a religion to you.

            Hey, good news about Damascus’ new mayor, don’t you think?

            Thanks
            JK

          • Todd

            National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP) is a taxpayer funded research effort.

            Heartland has just summarized the findings.

      • Chuck Wiese

        VP- You are as clueless about this as you are about “climate change”, as demonstrated by your remarks here:

        http://oregoncatalyst.com/6440-global-warming-meltdown-in-the-uk.html#disqus_thread

        Business could care less about where power comes from but they do care about what it costs them to use it as this is an expense that is passed onto consumers. If electric rates rise, cutting back on consumption is not an option if a business wants to grow or remain competative in expanding markets. The rising costs associated with expansion or growth are simply passed onto consumers as a higher cost for product. This is an inflationary cycle that benefits nobody.

        If these costs make the business no longer competative locally or globally, the business leaves, along with all of the jobs. Just like what is happening in Oregon now,because of the hostile business climate and ridiculous regulations causing red tape.

        Green energy at its present state of development is the new energy supply of a fool. And that is why green technology can’t survive on all four without a government subsidy, and is couched under the outrageously false claims that CO2 emissions are causing climate change. This is the governments angle, with green business to tax and screw the public. A sorry state of affairs for a country that is supposed to lead in technology.

        I won’t debate the wisdom of getting rid of coal fired plants because of emissions other than CO2, but to replace them with solar panels rather than proven and safe technology, like nuclear, is the calculus of a fool, both in terms of business, science and economics. You’re doing well, here, in that regard VP.

        • valley person

          Really Chuck? I think there are at least 6000 businesses who disagree with you, and that is just naming big ones.

          http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2010/05/24/us-corporate-support-climate-laws-tops-6k-firms

          The thing is, business people, and I am one of them, live on the same planet as working people, and live with the same climate. Clean energy may cost more at the point of delivery, but it costs a lot less when you factor in what comes out of the tailpipe, where that goes, and what it does.

          Nuclear energy is part of the solution, we agree on that much. But it is as or more heavily subsidized as is wind, and its potential for problems is a lot greater.

          As for your name calling skills, you need to work on them.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >The thing is, business people, and I am one of them, live on the same planet as working people, and live with the same climate.

            Yes, we know that. Your business is making money off of windmill lawsuits and giving expert testimony.

            >Clean energy may cost more at the point of delivery, but it costs a lot less when you factor in what comes out of the tailpipe, where that goes, and what it does.

            Doubtfull, but even if true that is not the situation we have here. China and India have said they will not cut back on green house gasses so the point is moot as there is no reduction worldwide.

            Look, its fine, you make a buck and everyone gets to pay more for power in order to enable that. However please don’t delude yourself that you are actually doing anything good here. You are running a scam, plain and simple.

          • valley person

            Yes Rupert, and a much bigger part of my business is to help plan new natural gas and transmission lines. In the past I even consulted on strip mine reclamation. Besides that, how do you account for Google? They are a major consumer of electricity and a major investor in wind and solar energy. And how do you account for John Deere, and the 6000 other corporate supporters of carbon pricing?

            The answer is you don’t. So you attack me instead. It only exposes the hollowness of your argument.

            China is building solar and wind much faster than we are. They are already selling us the technology and products and will eat our lunch on this one if we don’t wake up.

            Delude myself I am doing good? Who said I was doing good? I made no such claim.

            In any case you of all people, a sucker of subsidized federal hydropower, ought to pause before you lecture others.

          • Steve Plunk

            6000 businesses represent about 1/1000th of all businesses in the United States so clearly a majority sees “green” as a waste. I imagine many of the 6000 are rent seeking businesses that rely on green contracts from government. I believe that includes many consultants and architects as well. Both have become modern snake oil salesmen when it comes to selling “green” solutions. The tweed and turtleneck crowd is coming unhinged as their house of cards collapses.

          • valley person

            21 of the Fortune 100, and a substantial number of the Fortune 500 are on that list. Google is a high energy user, hardly a rent seeker. In fact, they are a rent payer because they help fund clean energy.

            The 6000 on the list are big corporations Steve, not family businesses. Your critique of them is way of the mark. You should check your facts.

      • Dean Apostile (Valley person): climate change.
        JK: Please tell us you are not so out of touch with reality to still believe in global warming after 10 years of global stasis & cooling??

        Give us a break from your crackpot beliefs.

        As to saving energy: why don’t you freeze in the dark and tell us how great it is to live like a caveman.

        BTW, how much will your property value increase under the Damascus plan that you, reportidly, helped write?

        Thanks
        JK

        • Shocked

          I did not know VP could write. How could he help Damascus??

  • Rupert in Springfield

    But look at the upside – like most green welfare programs, the PGE program does benefit some people, even if it hurts substantially more through increased rates. I really think there needs to be more focus in these sorts of articles on who is raking in the loot.

    Where are all these high rates going? How much are windmill hawking companies raking in? Who are the people getting the subsidized solar panels put in so they can get reduced electricity rates while forcing others to pay more? They say they are saving the planet. I say lets celebrate them by putting a face on them. Lets bring these people out of the shadows and start identifying them and their profits from all of us.

  • Todd

    Where is the link to the study by the OPUC?

    • Bob Clark

      Below is the link to the OPUC report. It also includes rate impacts for PacifiCorp customers. The impacts for natural gas utilities are much smaller because they don’t consider end use burning of natural gas. For that matter, the study doesn’t include the net benefits at the end user level of electricity in place of fossil fuels. On this level, Coal power generation actually has been found to decrease carbon dixoxide emissions, if the power is used to power vehicles in place of fossil fuel powered cars (which I would include ethanol in this category since it uses a bunch of natural gas and coal power in its manufacture).

      http://www.puc.state.or.us/PUC/sb101.pdf

      • Bob Clark

        sorry I got the spelling on dioxide wrong above.

  • Edwardhs

    valley person,

    Your crazy ideas take the same approach on every topic.

    You accept every asinine left wing notion coughed up by government and then parrot their stupid bromides like a good little Tre Arrow. .
    Locally you buy into every TriMet- Metro-Sam Adams farce and lecture people with their Rex Burkholder gibberish.
    At the State level you can’t even figure out the BETC flop and the failure to fund and adapt any meaningful segment of the business, industry or the populous to green power.

    Yet you flippantly declare “everyone” will simply have to adapt to the left wing driven high cost power?

    You’re moronic misunderstanding of what power effects is astounding.

    Besides the disproportionate affect on the poor and elderly nearly every product and service is affected. Including government services. Got that? So your stupid movement is also driving up the cost of government that is already in near collapse from debt and lack of funding.

    You are a public enemy.

  • Warmer

    It has been proven that alternative energy forms can make electricity without harming the earth. Proven beyond doubt. So, if you pay more, but you help protect our mother, what is the problem?
    Cheap energy only leads to waste and greed and harmful emissions. I say pay the extra money and save our mother. Pay it and pay it proudly.
    It is time to turn over a new leaf, and I mean it.
    Look at that flood in Sandy. That was from global warming. Lake Erie is frozen solid. That is from global warming. Cancun had the coldest temps in 100 years recently – that was from global warming. Look at the massive snow storms in the east. Those are from global warming. Look at the increased ice pack in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. That is from global warming. If we don’t stop global warming now we are really going to be cold.
    Do you hear me??

    • Bob Clark

      Yes, floods are totally new. Noah’s Arc was a prophecy, not something congered (or real) from experience in biblical times. Nature is just a warm cuddly mamma’s blanket if only not for evil economizing consumers. Lord of the Flies, baby. We are forever creating mythical monsters. It sure sells newspapers, and spawns a lot of useless enterprise.

    • Bob Clark

      Yes, floods are totally new. Noah’s Arc was a prophecy, not something congered (or real) from experience in biblical times. Nature is just a warm cuddly mamma’s blanket if only not for evil economizing consumers. Lord of the Flies, baby. We are forever creating mythical monsters. It sure sells newspapers, and spawns a lot of useless enterprise.

    • Chuck Wiese

      Warmer, That’s funny! You sound just like Valley Person.

  • Oregonnative

    Sorry everyone that this reply is late. I hope you are still able to view it.
    It is about Electrical cost going up to support windmills with the private companies paying and therefore the public pays. 35% increase beginning January 1st, 2011.
    WindTurbines are a farce, and just wait they are not subiside by the state or feds anymore…the market is going to crash. It is coming soon.
    I sold alternative electrical systems in the early 1980s, remember those subsidies during those times by the state and Feds? When they ended people quite buying.
    Why is it a no win situation today? Let us take one those subisided one million dollar windmills you see in the gorge. One million to build and in ten years the inverter and windmill has to be replaced. Not only that but electricity moves those windmills to face the wind. They are one of the electric co. biggest customers in that region. I will bet you these windmills not only cost more to operate than they produce, but replacement/upkeep cost even more. Has anyone heard of line loss of electricity flo to the distribution station.Yes there is jobs being provided to maintanance and install these things, but is it worth it.
    Are you feeling the Green going out of your pocket now?

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