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A victory for Oregon ratepayers is a victory for the climate

Posted by Ashley Henry at Jan 04, 2013 10:15 AM |

As I was sipping cerveza in San Pancho, Mexico just before Christmas, the Oregon Public Utility Commission issued an important decision in our state’s effort to move past coal fired electricity.

A victory for Oregon ratepayers is a victory for the climate

Ann Gravatt, Oregon Director

As I was sipping cerveza in San Pancho, Mexico just before Christmas, the Oregon Public Utility Commission issued an important decision in our state’s effort to move past coal fired electricity.  As part of its ruling on PacifiCorp’s rate casethe in-the-weeds process to determine how much money the utility recovers from its Oregon customers – the Commission found that the company failed to conduct sound analysis about some of its coal plant upgrade investments.  And they dinged PacifiCorp $17 million for that failure. 

This victory was brought to Oregon’s ratepayers by our allies at the Citizens' Utility Board (CUB) and the Sierra Club.  They argued – and the Commission agreed -- that PacifiCorp should have compared the costs of the coal plant upgrades with other energy generation projects, precisely what Portland General Electric did when it made its 2010 decision to close the Boardman coal plant. 

While $17 million might seem like pennies compared to the literally hundreds of millions of dollars spent on these kinds of coal plant investments, the message is clear: utilities must carefully consider all options – including retirement -- before committing money to upgrade coal plants. 

And a victory for Oregon ratepayers is a victory for the climate too.  We must maximize this opportunity to continue to shift our energy investments from coal to clean energy, and avoid any further investments that prolong the operating life of coal plants.

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