February 2019 Newsletter
Legislative and Policy Updates
Like many of you, we are tracking House Bill 2020, which would establish a new carbon cap and trade program for the state. The bill assigns responsibilities associated with administering the carbon market program to the Carbon Policy Office, which is housed at Department of Administrative Services. At the same time, the Governor’s Budget, released in November, called for a new Oregon Climate Authority to take the lead. The Legislature can’t direct responsibilities to an agency that doesn’t exist, so for now, the Carbon Policy Office is the landing spot for the new program while the parallel consideration of a new Climate Authority takes place.
That latter discussion moved forward this week with the release of new Oregon Climate Authority legislation. The draft legislative concept can be found here in full; here are some the key functions:
It establishes a new agency, the Oregon Climate Authority, to which the majority of the Oregon Department of Energy's “duties, functions, and powers” are transferred. One exception is the Small-Scale Energy Loan Program; the bill calls for SELP to be moved to Business Oregon.
It establishes a new Oregon Climate Board to advise the new agency and eliminates the Oregon Global Warming Commission.
Language in statute that provided authority and policy guidance for ODOE is re-written to emphasize the need for state action on climate change and to vest within the new agency responsibilities associated with collecting information, addressing climate change, and coordinating with other agencies.
It establishes a task force to review all the duties, functions, and powers of the new Oregon Climate Authority, and to provide recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on any that should be abolished, amended, or transferred to other agencies.
As the bill makes its way through the Legislature, the budget for the Oregon Climate Authority is tentatively scheduled in front of the Joint Ways & Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on March 18. Changes to the Subcommittee's agendas are posted on the Legislature's website.
Proposed Wind/Solar/Storage Energy Facility
The proposed Wheatridge Wind Energy Facility was in the news a lot this month, with coverage here, here, and here. The NextEra-owned facility has evolved quite a bit since ODOE received the preliminary application for the facility back in 2014. Originally conceived as a 500-megawatt wind farm with up to 292 turbines to be located in Morrow and Umatilla counties, the facility – while not yet constructed – is now on its fourth amendment. With the latest amendment, the project's site boundary would grow by about 1,500 acres, extend the construction deadline to 2023, add a 150-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system, and add 41 distributed energy storage system sites. This wind + solar + storage facility would be the first of its kind in Oregon through a partnership between PGE and NextEra Energy Resources.
Reports From Around the Agency
After record-setting snow in the south Willamette Valley this week, downed trees and power lines are making it difficult for some services to reach snowed-in communities like Oakridge. Our Emergency Preparedness team has been working with partners – including the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, and Lane County Emergency Management – to arrange safe delivery of propane to Oakridge, which may be without power for several more days. A big thank you to Oregon’s utilities for working hard during this winter weather to restore services!
On February 19, ODOE staff gathered with representatives from the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and Oregon State University for the first nuclear emergency preparedness exercise of 2019. The focus was on responding to an event at the Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear power plant located at Hanford along the Columbia River and just 30 miles from Oregon. Learn more about our emergency preparedness work on our website.
ICYMI, Oregon's Energy Facility Siting Council expects to have two vacancies beginning in July 2019. Volunteer EFSC members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate to review and oversee large-scale energy facilities. For more information, read more about EFSC's important role in the state, then reach out to Todd Cornett, Energy Facility Siting Division Manager and Council Secretary.
Last week, Ruchi Sadhir, ODOE's Associate Director for Strategic Engagement and Development, gave a pressentation on the Biennial Energy Report at the Cultural Resources Cluster Meeting in Salem hosted by the Legislative Commission on Indian Services. In December, ODOE submitted our annual Government-to-Government Report to LCIS - you can find it and other reports on our website.
We're hiring! Are you passionate about advanced energy efficiency technologies and practices? Do you have experience designing and reviewing plans for energy related systems?If the answer's yes, we're looking for a Facilities Engineer.
When the temperature drops, the number of news articles about electric vehicle performance rises. But EVs aren't unique in seeing fuel economy and performance decrease in cold weather: internal combustion engines face similar challenges. We dive in on the similarities and differences between battery- and gas/diesel-powered vehicles during winter weather on the ODOE blog. Read on!
Activities for Kids
A few months back, we got a great idea from a consumer-owned utility manager: increase the energy-related activities and information we offer to kids on our website. Around the same time, we had a talented intern join our team for the fall semester. We asked her to help with a new Oregon-specific coloring book. She ran with the concept, and the result is Michelle's Renewable Energy Adventure, a fun, accessible introduction to renewable energy across the state – available in English and Spanish. We also uploaded some of our other kid-friendly energy activities to a new Activities for Kids section of our website. Check it out and feel free to share materials with Oregonians of all ages.