Portland General Electric shuts Oregon's only coal power plant
Topics: PORTLAND OREGON
The closure fulfills a groundbreaking agreement PGE reached with stakeholders, customer groups and regulators in 2010 to significantly reduce air emissions from power production in Oregon by ending operations at Boardman 20 years ahead of schedule and transitioning to cleaner energy resources.
Boardman is the only coal-fired power plant in Oregon. PGE has a 90 percent ownership share of the plant. Idaho Power owns the remaining 10 percent.
“Our customers are counting on us to deliver a clean energy future,” PGE President and CEO Maria Pope said. “PGE’s Boardman closure is a major step on our path to meeting Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and transforming our system to reliably serve our customers with a cleaner, more sustainable energy mix.”
Boardman’s closure has been factored into PGE’s resource plans since 2010, so the company could take steps to ensure there’ll be enough electricity to continue reliable electric service to customers after the plant’s shutdown.
No single generator will replace the facility. Instead, a mix of resources including five-year contracts with the Bonneville Power Administration, Washington’s Douglas County PUD, and other independent suppliers has been added to PGE’s energy portfolio to meet near-term needs; a request for proposals for additional long term, non-emitting capacity resources is in the planning stages and is expected to be conducted next year.
The company is also bringing online energy storage, new renewable resources, and new distributed resources like demand response (when customers help balance the grid by volunteering to shift energy use during peak times) to create a cleaner, more resilient power system for the future.
One notable new renewable power resource that will help serve PGE customers and contribute to a healthy economy in the Morrow County community going forward is Wheatridge – a facility PGE is building with NextEra Energy Resources just south and east of Boardman, with 300 megawatts of wind and 50 megawatts of solar, augmented by 30 megawatts of battery storage.
PGE will own part of the wind resource and purchase the rest of Wheatridge’s output on a long-term contract with NextEra. The Wheatridge wind farm is currently in the final stages of construction and will be online this year. The solar and storage resources will be constructed in 2021 and are expected to be online before the end of next year.
Some Boardman employees will continue with the plant during 2021 to conduct environmental cleanup and ready the facility for demolition and removal beginning in 2022, while others will retire, move to other positions with PGE, or leave the company.
The company provided a comprehensive retention and severance plan as well as education and job-training benefits to help employees fulfill their personal goals after the closure. ■