Renewable Energy Costs You, Whether You Like It or Not

Portland General Electric (PGE) customers may have noticed something new on their bills recently. Last month, a “renewable resource adjustment” was added to electricity bills to pay for additional renewable resources like wind power. Even if you are not enrolled in the Green Power Program, all PGE customers are forced to pay for renewable energy. According to PGE, ratepayers can thank their legislators for this added electricity cost.

In 2007, Oregon legislators passed a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), forcing major utilities to procure 25% of their electricity from new renewable resources by 2025. With much fanfare, Governor Kulongoski claimed that this would be “protecting ratepayers with more stable and predictable utility rates.” Environment Oregon also claimed that ratepayers will save money by having utilities invest in wind energy instead of in fossil fuels. They were wrong.

Despite the existence of a voluntary program which allows renewable-resource-loving ratepayers to pay a higher cost to support renewable energy, PGE is charging all of its customers a higher rate for the added renewable energy on the grid by charging 0.22 cents per kWh, or approximately $2.13 extra per month, for an average household. But this is not all; PGE has requested to raise rates an additional 7.4%, or approximately $6.70 more per month, for an average household. Part of this rate increase is due to the expansion of the Bigelow Canyon wind farm that will help meet legislative mandates.

Despite promises by legislators and environmental organizations, renewable energy has increased rates and will continue to raise them even higher. Unfortunately in Oregon, all ratepayers are forced to pay for the costs of renewable energy whether they value it or not.

Todd Wynn is the climate change and energy policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.