ODOE’s Energy Facility Siting Team Takes on Largest Solar Project to Date
Over the past year, the Oregon Department of Energy has heard from several developers interested in pursuing large, utility-scale solar facilities. Many of those ideas are coming to fruition, with five proposed solar facilities now on the Energy Facility Siting Council docket.
Two of the projects – Montague Wind Power Facility and Carty Generating Station – are previously approved facilities that are now looking to incorporate solar into their existing footprint. The Boardman Solar Energy Facility is a 75-megawatt facility that is working its way through the EFSC review process; a proposed order was issued in December.
The last two are new to ODOE this month. The first is Blue Marmot, a 60-MW facility in Lake County that would be sited on 5,170 acres. The second is the Obsidian Solar Center, a proposed 600-MW facility also located in Lake County. The developer is proposing up to 7,000 acres for the facility, which would also incorporate battery storage.
Solar in Oregon has grown considerably over the last few years, but it took a while for the size of the facilities to start triggering state oversight. For some types of energy facilities, the amount of megawatts determines the threshold for when a facility must be reviewed at the state level. For solar facilities, it’s the number of acres in the facility’s footprint and the type of land on which the facility will be sited that determine if jurisdiction is with the county or state. These newer facilities definitely meet the state’s threshold. Fortunately, the volunteer members of EFSC have considerable experience applying the state’s energy facility standards to any proposal that requires their review.
Todd Cornett, an ODOE assistant director who oversees the Energy Facility Siting team, discusses the comprehensive process for how a proposed facility is reviewed by EFSC in the latest episode of Grounded, ODOE’s energy podcast.
People interested in learning more can also come to an EFSC meeting to see the process in action. EFSC meeting information is available on our website. If you want to catch up on prior meetings, we recently improved the way we make meeting audio recordings available. We now use the more user-friendly Soundcloud platform and are able to upload the recordings within a few days of each meeting.
ODOE and Other State Agencies Begin Implementing Energy Efficiency Executive Order
To paraphrase an old saying, a journey of a thousand steps starts with a single meeting. That’s why earlier this month, the Oregon Department of Energy met with a multi-agency working group to begin implementing an executive order that will help Oregon fight climate change.
Governor Brown’s Executive Order 17-20, signed in November, offers specific directives related to residential, commercial, and public buildings across the state. Emissions data show that residential and commercial buildings are a large greenhouse gas contributor. Reducing energy use and increasing efficiency helps lower emissions from the built environment.
The Built Environment Efficiency Working Group, a coalition of state agencies including ODOE, is figuring out how to meet the EO’s requirements, which cover solar-ready buildings, EV-ready parking lots, high performance buildings, and more. Full details are covered on the ODOE blog.
ODOE will convene monthly meetings for the group to talk about progress and identify and implement strategies to achieve the Executive Order’s directives. Stay involved by signing up to receive email updates on the project, including future opportunities to weigh in.
Tax Credit Programs Wind Down
The end of 2017 brought with it changes to ODOE’s energy incentive programs. The State Home Oil Weatherization Program, for example, moved to Oregon Housing & Community Services as of January 1, 2018. This program dovetails nicely with that agency’s work with housing advocates and low-income communities, so keep it in mind as an option for your customers or stakeholders.
While ODOE’s Biomass Producer & Collector Tax Credit program also ended, a new Bovine Manure Tax Credit Program will soon begin at the Oregon Department of Agriculture. And the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is making progress on a new Zero Emissions Vehicle Rebate Program.
ODOE’s remaining residential and commercial energy tax credit programs ended with the 2017 tax year. The end of the calendar year, however, does not mean the programs are completely over. ODOE staff are busy reviewing paperwork, processing applications, inspecting facilities, and more. The winter months are typically the busiest for the Residential Energy Tax Credit program, with Oregonians across the state submitting paperwork to secure their tax credit in time for the April 17 personal income tax filing date. Thanks for your patience if you call our office – we’re getting a couple hundred applications a day right now, and working through them and associated calls and emails just as quickly as we can.
Coming in February: Renewable Energy Development Grants
We’re on the cusp of being able to announce our next round of Renewable Energy Development Grants! RED grants are open to tribes, nonprofits, businesses, and public entities interested in developing solar, wind, geothermal, or other types of renewable energy generating capacity.
Read more about the RED program on our website. And stay tuned in February, when we’ll have details on application dates and deadlines. Are you receiving our press releases? Sign up to subscribe on our webpage!
State Sustainability Program Connects Oregon Businesses With Interns
ODOE is partnering with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Sea Grant on the Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience. Through OASE, Oregon businesses can host a free intern for 10 weeks over the summer. Interns will work with businesses across the state to help identify conservation measures for water or energy, prevent pollution, and save money in the process. ODOE will serve as a technical advisor on energy for the interns, and will host an orientation and kick-off for the program in June. Oregon businesses should apply by February 23 through DEQ’s website.
Last weekend, ODOE was at the Portland International Auto Show, where we shared information about electric vehicles, vehicle charging options, and resources for fleet managers looking to integrate alternative fuel vehicles. ODOE’s acting director Janine Benner spoke at a Forth event about the steps our agency is already taking to implement Governor Brown’s electric vehicle executive order, which was issued in November.
Reports From Around the Agency
- ICYMI, Janine Benner, ODOE’s acting director, provided her update on the state of ODOE earlier this month. Hear from Janine on what she anticipates for ODOE in 2018.
- The Legislature starts meeting next week for the short 2018 session. They’ll be discussing three different bills related to ODOE: SB 1519, SB 1537, and HB 4148. On Monday, February 5, Janine Benner will speak to two of the bills at the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation. Later that week, on February 8, Janine and other newly-appointed agency directors will be back in front of the Senate for her executive appointment hearing.
- On the blog this month, we reported out on progress made by ODOE and other members of the Solar Plus Northwest initiative. Read all about the coalition’s strategies for increasing solar installations in the state, including and especially in low-income and underserved communities.
- Our new and improved website isn’t so new anymore – it’s now a year old! As we review the site and make improvements and updates, we welcome your feedback on ways we can make it more useful. Have a great idea or constructive piece of advice? We’re all ears.
- One area where enhancements are already underway: the Jordan Cove Energy Project page. This federal project includes state of Oregon involvement across numerous agencies. ODOE is hosting a state dashboard for people interested in the project, with the latest information, links to review and permitting information, and – coming soon – easier guidance on how to reach people working on the project on behalf of the state. We’ll continue to make changes as the project moves through the regulatory process.
- And one last item in the continuous improvement department: this newsletter was developed specifically for utility managers and their staff. Your feedback is always welcome, as are more subscribers. Please feel free to share this newsletter and encourage others to sign up.
Renewable Natural Gas Advisory Committee Meeting | February 13 | Portland
Energy Facility Siting Council | February 23 | TBD